No Habitant, He

8

May 14, 2018, Prescott-

(This is Segment 4 of the Antonio Ribeiro saga.)

Antonio found his way to one of the few remaining public phones in Valleyfield.  He had made it away from the Palmieris. for the time being, by jumping on the back of a flatbed truck and staying prone, so quiet that the distracted operator of the vehicle didn’t know of his extra passenger until he drove into the small city, south of Montreal.

“Sacre Bleu!”, the discomfited truck farmer sputtered, once he did find a wayward Acoreno on his premises.  “Voulez-vous un grand battement, EH?”  Tony kind of, sort of, put the message together in his head and bolted down the street-not looking back at the still raging driver, who was now on the phone to the Provincial Police.  It took a good ten minutes of bobbing and weaving around the alleys, before he figured he had a shot at getting to Montreal.

So he rested in the shadows of a dumpster, before noticing about three Canadian dollars worth of coins, lying near a phone booth.  “God rules all!”, the former florist told himself, deciding to call the number that his late cousin had given him.

“Allo?”, Astrid Conejos answered, whilst lounging outside on her patio.

“Hey, my name is Tony R., from Massachusetts. I need to speak with Toro.”

“Voulez parler avec Arturo?”

“Yeah, ……I mean oui”, Tony said, using one of the five French words he actually retained from his high school class.

“Un moment”, the teenager sniffed, before bounding up to find her brother.

Arturo Conejos had come to New Bedford from Vigo, a Spanish city with a fair amount of traffic with Portugal.  He therefore fit in with the Azoreans, quite nicely.  The family moved to Montreal, after Toro had been arrested for drug trafficking, a few too many times.  They had kept a low profile, until Arturo came of age.  His sister had been born two years after the move, and mainly spoke French.

Arturo was a baggage handler, at Pierre Trudeau International Airport.  He would be an integral part of Antonio Ribeiro’s next move.  Toro was, at the moment, a bit tired. He was awake enough, though, to switch to the King’s English, once he got on the phone.

“Ya sumbitch, why call me here?  You come alla da way to Montreal, for what, exactly?”

Tony was flustered, but held his composure.  “Listen, Toro, there was a shootout, near the border.  My cousin, you remember him-the blond, blue-eyed Guanche?  He got blown away.  The border patrol nailed the Palmieri goons, but I took off.  The Italians, they don’t know where I am.”

“So, this involves me, how, exactly?”, the still-irritated Galician snapped.

“I got a card, a Visa, from my uncle.  Cuz gave it to me.  I need to get a flight out.  Please just get me to the airport.”

“A shootout, chaos, and you still have a Visa card?  Whattabout da passport?”

“I have that, too.  I just don’t have much cash, maybe two bucks, American though.”

“I didn’t think you were carrying Cuban pesos, El Tonto!”

“So, can you do this?”

“Yeah, and you get to experience life in a duffel bag, for the next seven hours.  Don’t worry, it’s cotton, it breeeeathes!”

“Hey, you mean I’m gonna be luggage?  I told you I have a Visa card.”

“That’s right, and you pay ME, instead of the airline.  C$ 300.00, all the way to Barcelona.”

“Aaaargh!”

“Antonio, take it or leave it.”

” Okay, I’ll do it.  But if the Catalunes flush a stiff from underneath the plane, guess who gets a visit from New Bedford.”

“No worries, I got this worked out.  Here’s my address.  I’m calling you a cab, right now.”

Two hours later, Arturo Conejos was putting a heavy duffel bag on an Iberian Airlines flight to Barcelona.

Radiance

12

April 22, 2018, Prescott-

While my laptop is, sadly, not able to upload photos from a SIM card, owing to a scratch either inside the port or on the adapter, I want to make mention of this weekend’s Chalk-it-Up.

We had live entertainment today.  A friend of mine was performing, as the lone male member of a group of ukulele players, doing spirited renditions of hits from the ’60’s and ’70’s.  They were accompanied by a very serious and limber little girl, dancing solo, with not a care for anyone watching.  She was a joy to behold, and the gleams in her grandparents’ eyes said it all.

Then came a radiant young hoop dancer, a woman of about 22, I’d say, also dancing her way into the hearts of all watching.  She reminded me of a dear young friend, who used to dance with both hoops and light sticks, before her untimely death in an auto accident, six years ago.  I thought of Jayme, whilst watching this dancer and her sharing of her hoops with several children in the audience.  My friend egged me on, to try a hoop myself, but I am awkward with such things and it would have been even more awkward being the only other adult jumping into the fray, alongside the winsome instructor- young enough to be my granddaughter.  Oh, well.

Chalk-it-Up is always a joyful event.  Here are some scenes of the more colourful drawings.  In their honour,  let’s take joy in the radiant beings around us.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Baked Carrots, etc.

21

April 13, 2018Chino Valley-

I attended a small gathering, this evening, in which one of the centerpiece dishes was baked carrots, wrapped in maple-glazed bacon.  The dish proved ornery, and two of us settled for loving crunchy carrots with fairly crisp bacon wrap.  I like my carrots raw, anyway, but these were delectable- organic and freshly-picked, from the taste of them.  Since the other centerpiece was quinoa spaghetti with pomodoro sauce, no one went without a satisfying meal.  This omnivore has had many wonderful repasts sans viande, and this was yet another.

On another note, I am now graced by the presence of 900 followers.  That the 900th is a dear new friend, makes this milestone that much sweeter.  I am keeping up with as many of your posts as my life, in toto, allows.  One benefit of being so far behind (14 days, in many cases) is that I am increasing my speed reading skills.

I’ll be off to lovely, vibrant Tempe, for a two-day Baha’i conference, and will post a bit of the desert, in its Spring glory, before returning to Home Base on Sunday evening.  Lovely weekend to all!

 

The Fast: Day 16- Cultural Preservation

13

March 17, 2018, Tucson-

This is a day when all the world loves what is Irish, or at least what the world thinks is Irish.  Of course, there is more to the Emerald isle than Guinness Stout and shamrocks.  Corned beef is an American addition to the day.

I came here, to Arizona’s Second City, to attend the dedication of The Loop, a trail network around Tucson and its suburbs of Oro Valley and Marana.  There were many festival booths, offering everything from meticulous examination of various animal tracks to fried food offerings, which I would not eat anyway, but which the Fast gave me an excuse to politely decline.

I walked about the grounds of a former Mormon settlement, called Binghampton Rural Historical Settlement, in which is found Brandi Fenton Memorial Park, dedicated to the memory of a much-loved 13-year-old girl, who was killed in a traffic accident, several years ago.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

SAM_9557.JPG

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Here, I watched as 12 Mexican-American children and teens performed exquisite folk dances of their ancestral country.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

After these dances were finished, I took a walk along the path above the Rillito River, currently a rather sere landscape, but be not fooled.  The Rillito has wreaked havoc in the Tucson area, on several occasions, most recently in 2006.

I leave you with this thought:  Baha’u’llah teaches that the positive and honourable traditions of each culture, such as the dances shown above and many musical/artistic styles, are to be preserved.  Humanity needs to avoid uniformity of thought and culture, the goal being unity in diversity.

 

Doing Becomes Finding Out

14

February 11, 2018, Prescott-

Thursday afternoon, as I was leaving work, I stopped backing out, on instinct, as a black SUV blew past me, in my blind spot.  The driver of a red pick-up, who was a few car lengths behind the SUV, then began to mock me and, following me close behind, pulled into the strip of driveway to my right.  He was laughing, and shaking his head, as I made room for him to pull around and find that…there was only room for one vehicle to turn at a time, whether right or left!  He couldn’t have been a regular student or staff member; we all know this to be true. Grimacing, the hot shot waved “Thank you”, and made his turn.

Friday afternoon, I drove home from work and found my street was closed, a SWAT vehicle was in our driveway, with a half-dozen police cars and at least a dozen armed officers standing in position.  One of the neighbours had committed a felony and was taken into custody.  It was a matter of his having beaten his lady friend and allegedly threatening responding officers with a deadly weapon. (I did not see any of this, but I trust that it happened, as reported. )  I drove around the corner, and waited at the next block up, talking with other neighbours, until the operation was completed.  Do the crime, and the time awaits.

Last night, I went over to a “Paint Jam”, at Wild Iris Coffee Shop.  I was given a canvas, a palette, three brushes, some rinse water and a mixing plate.  Realizing I had forgotten to bring a sketching pencil, my free-style painting commenced.  It ended up, as a little girl who was observing remarked, being “a very funny painting.”  My mind, after the fact, recalled several basic truths about the art of painting:  Backdrop gets done first; remember how to blend primary colours;  never, ever, forget a sketching pencil.  A photo, to copy, is also a nice thing to have.  Such are the consequences of not having painted a scene since sixth grade- 56 years ago.  I am keeping the painted canvas, in a place known only to me, as a token of humility.

Do, and you will find out.

A Chrysanthemum Morning

2

October 21, 2017, Prescott-

This was a crisp, cool respite from the ongoing summer onslaught.

Coffee came before, and after, a Farmers’ Market breakfast,

of quiche, and a lamb samosa.

My favourite cold brew purveyors have taken to the wind.

Jonathan Best was there, though, bouncing the air around,

and waking up the mountains, with his enormous energy.

Becky was there, too, with her mother, Bonnie,

and Dalke Farms’ unique toffee bar.

A comely lady was selling gourds and squashes.

I picked up an acorn squash, and a small gourd.

I will get more gourds, next weekend,

with a view towards a painting project,

on Halloween.

The last stop was the Whipstone stall,

and chrysanthemums will grace this afternoon’s

commemoration:

The 198th anniversary of the Birth of Al-Bab,

Herald to  the Light of the World.

 

 

 

Medicine for the Soul

4

September 17, 2017, Prescott- 

The poor man is, no doubt, sitting with his head in his hands, wondering what his beloved will conjure next.  Rebecca spoke, sympathetically, of her husband’s reaction to her doing things like writing a song a week, for a year or writing a song and a related poem, plus painting a picture, each week, for so many weeks.  I would guess that a certain number of said works are about him.

Last night, Rebecca Folsom and Sally Barris offered two hours of rapturous song, interspersed with the kind of banter indicated above.  They came to us from Boulder and Nashville, respectively, and offered “medicine for the soul”.  The repertoire ran from Rebecca’s songs of her beloved Colorado;  an homage to Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell and Carole King (see below); and a bluesy paean to what women can do, to Sally’s  impromptu “Halloween Love Song”; a tribute to those who accomplish much, with a “Little Voice”; and her signature “Let The Wind Chase You”, which earned a Grammy nomination, in 2009, when it was recorded by Trisha Yearwood and Keith Urban.

The ladies captivated the vast majority of the audience, including me in my box seat, just to the right of the stage.  We joined in, on cue, for the choruses of the Halloween Love Song and “Wilder Girl”.  Their nearly matching red dresses were a sign of the slight ache in their hearts, at not being with their sweethearts, on a Saturday night.  The loving audience at Prescott’s Elks Theater did what we could to make up for it, and like so many of us who have traveled far, in the line of work, they carry on.

There was a bit of personal resonance in the ladies’ presence.  Rebecca’s voice resembles that of my mother, in her prime.  Sally both looks and sings like my late wife did. Both  despite, and because of, that eeriness, I was all in with their performances.  Their work speaks of liberation and trusting love.  They stood, solidly, for the achievement that is in every woman’s soul and by extension, in the soul of the person she loves.

I’m sure I’d be fast friends with either one of them, should I encounter her in a more casual setting.  Perking up a visibly tired Sally, by thanking her for a lovely evening, was enough for last night.  I wish them, and all women, full progress towards that sense of attainment.  In the end, it will serve to benefit us men, as well.

MisPriced

4

February 27, 2017, Prescott-

A little observation about the Academy Awards:

Seems there was confusion about envelopes.

Perhaps colour-coding is in order.

Colour was, in itself, not an issue tonight.

The ceremony was bathed in full Moonlight.

The auditors, though, remained in LaLa Land,

jarred only by the stunned expression

on the face of Warren Beatty,

and the concern for justice,

in the eyes of Emma Stone.

Mahershala Ali calmly waited his turn,

knowing, in his heart of hearts,

that the prize was his own.

The gauntlet has now been run,

and the people have won.

Oscar is no longer a grouch,

the voice of reason has spoken out.

Facing reality has trumped sweet escape.

Several notions of beauty,

now leave the beholder agape.

Sea of Trees

0

January 30, 2017, Prescott-

Saturday evening, after my hike, I headed for a friend’s house, in Phoenix, where I spent the night.  I had experienced a fair amount of spiritual resonance, whilst on the trail, particularly in the alluvial stone deposits, just north of the New River. As I’m reading “The Standing Stones Speak”, which some of my more jaded friends regard as New Age hokum, I found a bit of a connection, through my meditation, between the book and the spiritual climate.

It was not a coincidence, in my view, that “The Sea of Trees”, a 2015 film that was slammed by hipster critics, was my friend’s Netflix choice for viewing, that evening.  Like the central character in the film, I was caretaker for a deathly-ill spouse.  The wife in the film was not ill for very long, though, and ended up being killed by a distracted driver, while riding in an ambulance (the one plot twist I had a hard time accepting, as I have never seen anyone T-bone an emergency vehicle, especially at a high rate of speed).

The protagonist and his wife struggled, at times, just as many couples do, when differences of life energy become personalized.  Penny and I worked through our issues, and ended strong.

When the protagonist chose to travel to a forest, east of Japan’s Mount Fuji, with the intent of committing suicide, he encountered another suicidal man, who was struggling to get out of the forest, as he had changed his mind.  Through trying to help the other man, he realizes his own suicidal impulses were not all that deep.  It turns out that his late wife’s spirit was working, through the presence of the other man, to help the protagonist work through his grief.

Again, this was no coincidence that we viewed this particular film.  I reflected that there have been so many times, in which Penny’s spirit has helped me, through one difficulty or another. This, it is apparent, is what loving spirits do for those they leave behind, here in the physical realm. Indeed, are there really any coincidences, at all?

One Less Smile

2

August 29, 2016, Prescott- 

Far from here, in an historic colonial house,

a funny man breathed his last, today.

There is so much,

and there are so many roles,

by which to remember him.

Like all comics, he was complex.

Like anyone who knew joy,

and then lost it,

he felt anger at that loss.

Like anyone who became known

for a particular role,

he longed for the next project,

the one which would give him his due.

Like anyone who learned to love again,

he held on to that love,

and gave it back,

in spades.

Frederick Frankenstein,

Willy Wonka,

The Waco Kid,

Max Bloom,

Gene Wilder.

Jerome Silberman gave us all a long run,

of both laughs and tears.

Shalom, Jerome.