Throwback Thursday and Desert Shrimp

16

December 6, 2018, Prescott-

Thirty-eight years ago, today, I met the woman who would change my life, immeasurably, for the better.  Penny and I met in a crowded and very simple house, in Zuni, NM, on the night of a house blessing (known as Shalako). We shared a chair, taking turns sitting down and nodding off, during the all-night ceremony.

We ended up sharing everything else, for close to thirty years, all but one of those years as husband and wife.  As I’ve said before, she’s still looking out for me, in ways large and small, since her passing in March, 2011.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Above, we are flanked by my parents, on our wedding day, June 6, 1982.

We shared many of the same tastes in food, among other things.  We both appreciated healthy and unadulterated ingredients. So, I think she would have liked Desert Sweet Shrimp. https://arizonashrimp.com/

I purchased a pound of these gems, over a month ago, and made two great meals out of them.  The first order of business, when preparing shrimp for a fine repast, is to shell the Caridea (the correct name of the creatures which are bred in this series of well-derived ponds, in Gila Bend, AZ).  Shelling can be done in a variety of ways- the easiest of which is to soak the shrimp in beer, for 8-10 hours. This leads to the shell falling off, almost automatically. I chose to shell each one individually, sans bier, so as to get a feel for the relationship between the shell and the flesh.  Deveining follows, no matter what method one uses for removing the shell.  Deveining means removing the receptacle holding the shrimp’s fecal matter, so it’s a VERY important step.  The Caridea are then rinsed, at least twice, before being added to a recipe.  It took me an hour to properly prepare the shrimp for cooking. Below is an image (Courtesy of Arizona Shrimp Company-all rights reserved) of the actual shrimp that I purchased.

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I prepared most of the shrimp in sopa de camarones (“shrimp soup”), using green onions, chili powder, turmeric and sea salt.   It’s been a favourite of mine, since I first ate it in Puerto Penasco, Sonora, nearly forty years ago.  I used the rest in a small scampi dish, using a recipe posted on In Diane’s Kitchen, https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/114793426/posts/27651 , on September 13.

Both were exquisite meals, which gave me sustenance for over a week.    I hope to visit the actual facility, during a few days in the West Valley and Gila Bend, right after New Year’s.  I also hope the company will continue a presence at Prescott Farmers’ Market, next spring and summer.

This is the first of a series of posts honouring the festive, and deeper, aspects of the great December holidays.    NEXT:  Prescott’s Acker Night.

 

 

Setting Things Right

8

December 5, 2018, Prescott-

Whilst on the exercise bike, this evening, I glimpsed a segment of “Property Brothers”, in which the men were called to rehabilitate a house that was ravaged by carpenter ants, mold and shoddy original construction.  They made the restoration happen, with a tight team effort and more money spent than planned.

Life is that way, for so many of us. We take up the slack for others, and ask for more money in the process.  Some of that money doesn’t get repaid on the lender’s schedule and some  lenders raise the roof.  Some of the shoddy workmanship causes more trouble than it’s worth, and the fixers walk away.

I thought about my own life.  A month from now, small debts will have been repaid.  A couple of  sidetracks will have been calmly brought to an end, with thanks said to the good souls involved.  I will be on track to visit my little family, in Korea.  My schedule in 2019, outside of work, will otherwise be pretty much open, otherwise,.

The prime mission I have is to set things right- with any loved one who has misunderstood my absences, silences or abrupt changes of plans, over the past few years, but especially this year.  Some of that will happen next week, and the rest will  follow.

For the next several days, I will focus on a variety of things, in the nineteen days leading up to, and including, Christmas.  The first of these is desert-grown shrimp.

Illusions that Limit

10

December 4, 2018, Prescott-

I read about you today,

the “chamberlain” drinkers,

who contrive beverages of everything

from cough syrup to aerosol propellant.

These are to help you escape,

what you see as an untenable,

unbearable reality.

I read about the stock market,

flailing, and looking for any excuse,

to take other people’s money,

to strike back at the government

or to just take the money and spend it,

willy nilly.

I read about the lawsuits,

going in both directions,

to also strike back

at one’s political opponents

or at people with whom

one disagrees in areas

as widely separated,

as religion and commerce.

These pastimes are those

of the lost,

of those whose faith is

in scarcity.

My faith is in abundance.

I have a duty to my body,

to see that what goes into it,

is at least digestible,

does not poison my vital organs,

or numb my brain.

I have a duty to my elders,

including the departed,

to take what they have

so generously left me,

and nurture it.

I have a duty to my fellow humans,

to not besmirch their dignity,

to not savage them,

for their different viewpoints,

but to encourage their growth,

along with my own.

My faith is in abundance.

One Heart’s Fortune

2

November 30, 2018, Prescott-

This evening, with a fairly peaceful week of work behind me, and a resolution to the dilemma, that I described in the last post, having been put into motion, I attended the opening night of a play, “Hannah’s Heart”, about a 10-year-old girl in Depression-era Prescott, her family, and two benefactors.

Like many families in the 1930’s, the Meadows’ were a brood led by a swaggering father, who was, ironically, recovering from an injury, and a stoic mother, focused on what she could do to make up for the loss of her husband’s productivity.  The ebb in their fortunes led to older daughter Hannah Grace, stepping up to make tree ornaments, by the sale of which she could provide gifts for her family.

The flow that this effort provided helped reverse the family’s low fortune, at least temporarily.  She was aided in her work by two angelic figures, an elderly woman who lived alone and who was befriended by the Meadows’ and a robust man from Texas, who took on the work, around the family farm, that Mr. Meadows was unable to do.  Both of them mentored Hannah, encouraging her to follow her heart.

I enjoy this sort of down-to-earth, human interest story.  It mirrors the many tales I’ve heard over the years, from both sides of my large extended family, as well as from my departed in-laws.  The format of the play has an elderly Hannah Grace, in the present day, telling her Millennial granddaughter about the events of that long-ago Christmas.  It behooves all present-day youth to learn what they can of that time in history, from those who lived it if possible, so as to be better able to handle similar situations, which could very well arise, in their own lifetimes.

 

Sunshine Blogger Award

16

November 25, 2018, Prescott-

sunshine-blogger-award

The rules of this Awesome Sunshine Blogger Award are:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blogging sites.
  • Answer the questions.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  • List the rules and display the sunshine blogger award logo on your site or on your post.

The questions:

 

  1. Are you the  jolly type or serious type personality,  and why ?

I am easy-going, most of the time, with a sense of humour about most situations. I am serious, when the situation calls for careful, sober behaviour.

2. When you are irritated, how crazed you can become ?

I am rarely driven to intense anger. Rape, child abuse and unlawful imprisonment are what make me angry, when I encounter them.  I would not allow myself to beat someone senseless, but would certainly pursue justice for a victim of such crimes.

3. What is your opinion on live in relationship ?

I believe in marriage.  Sex outside of marriage is wrong, except in cases of extreme chaos and massive casualties in a population, when people need to live together, for the sake of security.

4.   Your thoughts,when you realised that next minute you are going to die …

I have lived a wonderful life. My beloved is waiting, on the other side of the veil.

5. Can you tell me,what is the necessity for so many religions to come into the existence ?

There is a misconception, among most people, that each of the Divine Messengers is separate from all Others.  Each person thinks “his” or “her’ Messenger is the sole Voice of God.  Then, there are those who follow a variation of a revealed Faith- (Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Sunni, Shiite, Sufi, Theravada, Hinayana, etc.)  There is, in fact, one Spiritual Truth, which is revealed to the extent the people of the time can understand.

6.  What is the one fulfillment ,you demand from God ?

I demand nothing from God.  He is the Creator and I am one of His creatures.

 

7.  Do you Love & marry the person or Marry and then Love the person ?

I sense that, by “love”, you are referring to romance and sex.  I believe that sex should only happen after marriage.  I love several women, as friends.  I could be romantic with a single woman, but not involve myself sexually unless I married her.

8.  At what limit of your income,you feel satisfied ?

I am content with an income of U.S. $ 30-40K.  I would accept, and invest, more, of course.

 

9.  Which part of your childhood you cherish most ?

I enjoyed my middle childhood, ages 8-11, the most.

10.  What is/was most embarrassing moment in your life ?

Being set up by a small group of adults and teens, whilst taking over a supervisory role with two of the teens.  They were given money by unknown adults, to finance a get-away from residential school, on my watch.

11.   What is your favorite quote ?

“The Earth is but one country and mankind, its citizens.”-Baha’u’llah

Thank you, Philosophy through Photography

My nominees are:

stellabailey.wordpress.com

Somewhat Damaged

Sunshiny SA Site

Happiness Between Tails by da-AL

SHEILA RENEE PARKER

Book ‘Em, Jan O

psychologistmimi.wordpress.com

priscawriter.wordpress.com

Stories I’ve Never Told…

Victoria Ray

www.madekesiworld.com

 

Here are my questions.

  1.  What gets you up in the morning?
  2.  Where do you work, or go to school?  Is it far from your home?
  3.  What makes you continue, even in the face of trial?
  4.  What brings you the most joy?
  5.  What is your honest opinion of social media?
  6.  Do you have a role model?  If so, what about that person draws you in?
  7.  What have you learned from a setback?
  8.  What do you think your community needs most?  Your country?
  9.  Would you like to travel? To where?
  10.  Which is more urgent, fixing potholes in your city’s roads, or travel to Mars?
  11.  Which human quality do you find most appealing?  Why?

 

Gratitude Week, Day 7: The Finest Fruits

9

November 24, 2018, Prescott-

I have decided to end this week of gratitude, by looking back at the ten best choices I ever made.  I am grateful to the Universe for having placed these in front of me and I have a measure of self-gratitude for having made them.

10,  Serving in the Army– At 18, I had little to show for my life. There was no discipline, of which to speak and my world consisted of drooling over girls and imbibing too much alcohol, too fast.  Other-imposed discipline gave me a regimen, which I could add to the work ethic that my parents instilled in each of us and it set me on  a course of self-reliance, which I still need and use.

9.  Studying Psychology- It didn’t make me wealthy and barely got me a job, but knowing something of what makes the human mind tick has given me insight into myself and has made me more understanding of others.

8. Living on the Navajo Nation- I have a strong genetic memory of the Indigenous. I am not much, in terms of blood quantum, but my nature fairly burns with the feeling that I belong in the woodlands; that I am a gatherer and a sharer; that I am one with the Universe. Being on the same page, day to day, with Dineh (Navajo) and Hopi people reinforced that unity.

7. Blogging-   Writing is a skill that three of my four high school English teachers saw as a talent that I needed to sharpen.  They gave me the tools to keep on sharpening that talent.  College brought it up another notch.  As a caretaker, and then as a widower, far from extended family, blogging gave me an outlet, one step up from journaling  (which I also still do) and a wider appreciative audience.

6, Returning to work, full time- In 2016, having been a substitute teacher, with a couple of other jobs, whilst being Penny’s caretaker, I found a niche at Prescott High School.  My place there was, more or less, secure and I was urged to return full-time, for the years leading up to my retirement from education.  That work has been fulfilling, and will remain so until I reach 70, two years from now.

5.  Working as a counselor- As a school counselor, I was able to impact thousands of lives, over the span of eleven years, between Tuba City and Keams Canyon/Jeddito, and some of those lives were saved.  I am haunted by  a few lives that weren’t and by those I couldn’t reach.  The majority, though, learned life skills and resilience, and knew that someone had their backs.

4. Settling in Prescott- The job aside, moving here after Penny’s passing was a lifesaver.  I had the anchor of a house, for the time I needed it, and of a Faith Community with whom I was already familiar and who were not intimate with Penny’s suffering.  That last was important.  I could not have the constant reminders of all that we had endured together.  Since then, I have made many new friends and branched out in several directions-all healthy.

3. Widespread travel-Besides going back and forth from Arizona to the East Coast, for family visits, my wanderlust has taken me to western Europe, Hawai’i, the Pacific Northwest and southeast Alaska.  I took in a small swath of eastern Canada, last summer and am likely to cross our northern neighbour again, in the summer of 2020.  California, Nevada and Colorado have also seen a lot of me, these past seven years, as have the South and Midwest.  This is an essential part of who I am.

2.  Getting married- I have always been crazy about girls and women.  There isn’t much about the opposite gender that I don’t like, though I am proud to be male.    Self-dislike got in the way, though, when I found myself drawn to one young lady after another.  Penny didn’t fall for any of that, and we built a solid foundation, by which both of us were able to tame most of our demons and raise a fine young man, who has taken his full place in the world.

1. Recognizing Baha’u’llah- I received a solid spiritual foundation, having been raised in the Roman Catholic faith. As I matured, though, the rituals and practices began to feel automatic to me, and I have always known that there is a continuity to Divine Revelation, superseding any one of the faiths or denominations that are commonplace.  In 1972, I heard of Baha’u’llah, and the Baha’i Faith, for the first time.  Nine years later, I embraced Baha’i as my own.  I have found its precepts teach everything in which I already believe, and the teachings regarding health are exactly what I needed, to tame the demon of alcohol dependence.  Far beyond those, however, are the vision of planetary and human unity-dispelling the darknesses of racism, nationalism and excessive materialism.

I am sure I will have other choices to make, in the coming days, months, and years.  Perhaps a life-changer will be among them, as well.

Gratitude Week, Day 4- Those Who Serve

0

November 21, 2018, Congress, AZ-

I’m enjoying dinner here, at Nichols West, a small but elegant restaurant, on the north side  of this tiny ranching and mining town, itself at the western edge of Yavapai County.  The place is the love-work of an English-South African-New Zealander couple, and has not once left me wanting for a fine meal.

I came here, after setting myself the challenge of re-training my knees to work together, whilst paying respects for a second time, to the nineteen men who perished in the Yarnell Hill fire, on June 30, 2013.

I know members of four of the families of those who gave their lives that day.  Their collective sacrifice is typical of those families who give us their finest members, each and every day, never knowing whether their child, spouse or parent is going to return home, safe and sound.

This sacrifice has been written large, in the 9/11 attacks, in the mass killings of military and first responders of less celebrated, but equally compelling, disasters, and in the wildland fires, and other natural disasters, that continue to ravage locations across the country and across the planet.

So, I walked to the circle of gabions, in a quiet valley below the boulder-racked ridges of Yarnell Hill, the southern tip of the Santa Maria Range.  There were several others, enjoying the bright blue sky and rugged trail, whilst paying their own homage to the brave.  It is always worth the trek.20181121_121343[1]

I took my time, and was nearly the last one out of the park, with fifteen minutes to spare. The day  began with me befriending a frightened woman, who is caretaker to the love of her life (Yes, we also serve, who sit and wait), and listening/counseling her to keep on loving and cherishing the man who has been everything to her for decades. It is now ending, with my knees no worse for the wear and a restorative meal, having honoured those fallen men, whose memory is indelible.

Gratitude Week, Day 1: Eight Valuable Groups of Friends

6

November 18, 2018, Prescott-

I am devoting Thanksgiving week to specific reasons for gratitude. Each day will address a theme that is cause for praise and happiness. Today, I want to look at what I’ve gained, from friendships with people in ten different groups.

Senior citizens:  Those over 75 years of age (my arbitrary definition of senior citizen) have accrued the life skills and practice to address even the most anomalous of occurrences.  Those who have all their faculties intact have consistently pointed me in the right direction.

Teenagers: Having worked largely with teens, over the past forty-two years, I find their honesty and energy have been life-affirming and have kept me very much in a place of integrity. A teen’s “BS Meter” is equal to that of a senior citizen.  The current generation of youth, at least those with whom I work, seem to know that much will be expected of them, in the very near future.

Children under twelve:  Like those immediately older than they, the current generation of children has a sense of most likely needing to clean up messes made by others. They tend to have a strong sense of destiny and are the least likely to “be seen and not heard”.  I find their honesty also very refreshing, even when it is seemingly adversarial.

Happily married (both genders):  I have many friends, both male and female, who are at a good place in their marriages.  The perspective brought by a married person, with no ax to grind, actually is a blend of both their opinion and that of their spouse-thus being more grounded.  I am more likely to become friends as well, with the spouse of  a friend who is happy in wedlock.

The firm in faith:   A person who is well-grounded, but not dogmatic, in their faith is most likely to be open to the commonality of spiritual truth.  As this commonality is the basic teaching of the Baha’i Faith, to which I adhere, I find this firmness a compelling basis for my friendships with many who adhere to other faith traditions.

The happily engaged:  Whether in gainful employment or in acts of voluntarism, a person who is happy in what s(he) is doing with time, is an affirmation of my own concept of acts of service.  Happily engaged people tend to be more trustworthy and connected with others.

Lifelong learners:  Students of life, of every age group, present fresh perspectives to any given situation.  They also challenge me to keep on looking into new issues, or to look at old matters, with fresh eyes.

Special Needs people:  Whether simple in nature or full of complexity, my friends of  special need are always up front about what addresses those needs.  It takes intuition, to understand the feelings and wants of a special needs person.  Anything that hones intuition is a good experience.

Having friends in each, and sometimes several, of these categories is largely what has contributed to the richness of my life.

 

 

 

 

Veterans, Donuts and Honouring Commitments

2

November 12, 2018, Prescott-

Today is an extension of Veterans Day, being the Monday after a Sunday holiday.  It is also the birthday of a friend, so there will be a small luncheon in her honour, just before Noon.  Before that, though, there is a donuts for vets event, at our local Veterans Center.

These two events will find me showing up, yet there is also the matter of tying up loose ends, by delivering the remaining items I had stored for the individual I mentioned yesterday.  That will begin the afternoon.  Then, I have several hours of “me-time”, and can enjoy the coolness of a crisp Fall day.  For the first time in a while, I will take my camera with me, and just walk-somewhere.

Commitments are huge, and one of the things I have had to work on-under my own terms, is presence.  I am making progress, despite occasional setbacks, and no amount of screaming and yelling on anyone’s part is going to deter me from meeting that goal.  My honour is intact.

I have found, once again, that the vast majority of people in the world are fine folks.  I am in a good place, in this community, and have been treated well on the road, also.  There was a brief period, last month, when I did not feel safe.  That came from giving too much power and importance to someone else-and that is behind me.  One must never hand control over to another, no matter how loud and manipulative that other person is.

Things are returning to good, once again.  Happy Veteran’s Day, Part II, to all who have served our nation.

 

Back to Light

22

November 3, 2018, Prescott-

It’s no secret that there was a fair amount of darkness in my life, a few weeks ago.  It wasn’t anyone’s fault, but I had to go through having my ego tested, to see whether I deserved to have the goodness that has been increasing, over the past four months, to continue.

The dark consisted of a number of anomalous situations, involving limited communication means and quickly changing circumstances.  This is how darkness works: Obfuscate, confuse and deflect.  Gaslighting is the name of its game.

Darkness, though, is the absence of light.   Once sunshine re-enters, the confusion gets dispersed, Hopefulness, never completely gone, reclaims its share of the heart.  The commonalities, between seemingly disparate anomalous situations, appear-even to my mind, that can be so slow on the uptake.

So, now, my left knee is functioning just fine again.  A serious impediment to my finishing this academic year has been removed.  A person, who had abruptly left my circle of friends, sent me a conciliatory note and I was reassured, by a mutual friend, that a small but important matter, involving said soul, had indeed been resolved.

My schedule can still be maddening, at times, and I realize I am the one who ultimately drives that bus.  Compromises and occasionally saying “No” are arising, as things get more intense, during this holiday season.  I have also figured out how to more effectively use the time I do have available.

There are only two non-negotiables, in that respect.  I will attend my mother-in-law’s interment, sometime in the next few months, and my son’s nuptials, in the early Spring.  Everything else is a matter of timing and of urgency.  There are good reasons for synchronicity in the Universe, and we do well to not be afraid to prioritize.

There is another aspect to Light, which I am glad to be seeing more often these days:  The importance of marriage and the family.  I will discuss that further, in the next post.

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