The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 93: That Hamilton Woman

2

September 1, 2020, Alexandria, LA-

The Disney enterprise once had a masterful cartoonist, in Bruce Hamilton. His signature characters were Donald Duck and his family, His back-up, his leading lady, was Helen.

Bruce passed on, several years ago, after a lengthy illness, leaving Helen as matriarch of a talented family of artistes. She was the focused eye of reality, keeping all her dreamers on track.

The Hamilton home, in Prescott, was well-appointed and always welcoming. Hollywood posters, from the Golden Age, abounded-with the signature “That Hamilton Woman”, promoting a period piece from 1941, starring Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier. Disney memorabilia, and Bruce’s life’s work, adorned all common rooms.

Helen passed on, yesterday, after a lengthy illness. Her legacy is one of clear vision, cultured generosity, and a structured approach to life-all coming forth from a gentle demeanour. She made the finest brownies-and I’m told, delectable deviled eggs and egg salad. She and Bruce traveled widely-across Europe and South America, as well as all over the United States.

That Hamilton woman was regal, and will be sorely missed.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 50: Bingeing

4

July 20, 2020-

I only occasionally binge watch Netflix or Amazon Prime. It takes a special character, usually a spunky kid or a compelling character, to get my extended attention. Likewise, in following a blog site, I may lose track of someone i’m following, but when I catch back up, the tendency is to at least read a month’s worth, and comment on every single post. If the blogger sees this and thinks I’m Spam Stalker, I guess I’ve had that coming-but that’s never my intention.

Bingeing is rare occurrence, precisely because, even in this time of not working, there are all sorts of expectations from online and real time friends, family and Instant Family-the last group being people who address me as “Brother” or even “Father”, even though we’ve never met. I’m always glad to lend a hand, when time allows. Budgeting, though, even with time, is still key to living a full life-of one’s own. God knows, there are plenty of people out there who will gladly have me living THEIR lives.

So, to the blogger of whose posts I read and commented on 30 posts, this afternoon, know that it was done out of appreciation for your extraordinary writing. No harm, no foul.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 46: Where To?

2

July 16, 2020- Today is the birthday of one of my best friends, so I will be in her luxuriant garden, later this afternoon, honouring her with gifts and exchanging stories.

As is well known, I am choosing to stay around Prescott for most, if not all of the summer-and am not going outside of Arizona, barring an emergency, until at least mid-October.

Nonetheless, I think it perfectly fine, if people in places less affected by COVID than we are, get out and enjoy salubrious places in their home states. Travel further afield is, in most cases, best saved for less infested times.

So, in the interests of such travel, here are my own top two favourites for in-state jaunts. Many of them, I’ve visited; others are the favourites of friends.

Starting here and working outward:

Arizona- Thumb Butte; Texas Canyon

Southern California- Carbon Canyon; Julian

Northern California- Point Reyes; Lassen Volcanic NP

Nevada- Valley of Fire; Cathedral Gorge

Utah- Natural Bridges; Bryce Canyon

Colorado- El Dorado SP; Seven Falls

New Mexico- Taos; Sandia Crest

Oregon- Crater Lake; Bandon

Washington- Neah Bay; Leavenworth

Alaska- Sitka; Talkeetna

Hawaii- Volcanoes NP; Kauai

Idaho- Hell’s Canyon; Craters of the Moon

Montana- Glacier National Park; Bob Marshall Wilderness

Wyoming- Grand Teton NP; Spirit Tower (“Devils Tower”)

North Dakota- Peace Garden; Theodore Roosevelt NP

South Dakota- Black Elk Peak; Badlands NP

Nebraska- Scotts Bluff National Monument; Henry Doorly Zoo

Kansas- The Hollow Park,Sedan; Flint Hills

Oklahoma- Lakes of the Cherokees; Black Mesa

Texas- Falls of the Pedernales SP; Palo Duro Canyon

Louisiana- North Side of Lake Pontchartrain; Bayou La Batre

Arkansas- Crater of Diamonds; Petit Jean State Park

Missouri- Lake of the Ozarks; Sedalia

Iowa- Lewis & Clark SP; Ledges

Minnesota- Lake Superior shore; Pipestone NM

Wisconsin- Apostle Islands; Door Peninsula

Illinois- Baha’i Temple, Wilmette; Cahokia Mounds

Mississippi- Ocean Springs; Emerald Mound

Tennessee- Shiloh; Lookout Mountain

Kentucky- Land Between the Lakes; Mammoth Cave

Indiana- Indiana Dunes; Brown County

Michigan- Picture Rocks; Keweenaw

Ohio- Bass Islands; Serpent Mound

West Virginia- White Sulphur Springs; Harpers Ferry

Alabama- Tuskegee; Muscle Shoals

Florida- Everglades; Nature Coast

Georgia- Sea Islands; Amicalola Falls

South Carolina- Sea Islands; Travelers Rest

North Carolina- Tryon; Outer Banks Region

Virginia- Shenandoah National Park; Chincoteague

District of Columbia- Rock Creek Park; C & P Canals

Maryland- Eastern Shore; Antietam

Delaware- Cape Henlopen; Fort Christina

Pennsylvania- Valley Forge; Bushkill Falls

New Jersey- Pine Barrens; Ramapo Mts.

New York- Ausable Chasm; Niagara Falls

Connecticut- Taconic Hills; Mystic

Rhode Island- Block Island; Narragansett Beach

Massachusetts- Mt. Greylock; Cape Ann

Vermont- Green Mountains; Lake Champlain

New Hampshire- Presidential Range; Mt. Monadnock

Maine- Mount Desert Island; Moosehead Lake

For the most part, these are sites in nature. In another post, when we are further along in recovery, I will mention my favourite cities, large and small.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 33: Staying Un-Ugly

2

July 3, 2020-

In the end, the Fourth of July observance at Mt. Rushmore did not result in death, explosions or wildfire. I don’t share, in wholesale fashon, either the conservative or liberal vision of America’s future-but I see good points in both.

I believe in hard work, and I believe in equal pay for that hard work. I believe in preserving, and learning from, history; I also believe in not sugar-coating the hard aspects of that history. If a story is brutal, tell it anyway. If a story is uplifting, so much the better.

I believe in freedom to innovate, and I believe in following a fair and just set of laws-which do not fall victim to either the urge for vengeance or the urge for unbridled anarchy.

I see many good things that have come out of our hybrid culture. I also see much room for improvement. I see goodness in a pioneering spirit. I also see that it is only a good thing for this country to acknowledge and celebrate the foundation that was already here, with my First Nations ancestors, when that pioneering spirit took root on the periphery of this continent, and our neighbour to the south.

European-Americans have given much to our society, but they are far from the whole ball of yarn. We would be, and could still be, a lesser nation, were it not for the African-Americans who are yet rising from the ashes of enslavement; were it not for the First Nations, who already had a civilization when Europeans arrived; were it not for the Asians who built the transcontinental railroads, only to be kicked and beaten, literally and figuratively, by those who saw menace in what they did not understand; were it not for the Hispanics, who also predated English-speaking people, in much of the country.

Some, on both ideological ends of the spectrum, have given in to a subculture of fear-with its propensity for violence, for lies about the other side and for hubris about the “superiority” of their arguments. In both cases, there is much anger, rooted in pain. That is why, while cutting off and deleting messages and comments that I know are completely false, I will listen to those of any philosophical position, who come from a place of truth.

No group of people is lacking in value, in strength, in beauty, in worthiness.

The Summer of the Rising Tides,Day 27: Grass Stains

2

June 27, 2020-

Today was largely spent in a Zoom conference, concluding Unity Week, an 8-day conference, in which I only obliquely participated, largely through addressing topics that need to be faced, if true unity is to be achieved. The closing sessions, therefore, caught my undivided attention, addressing the Four Roads one must traverse, in reaching a point where contributions to society will be meaningful.

More about these Four Roads (or Vias), in the next several days. This evening, my mind went back to simpler times. I walked downtown, after the conference had reached its closing remarks and extended farewells. The aim was to sit up on the roof of Raven Cafe, and catch the salsa and funk that was emanating from the rooftop’s makeshift stage.

Wouldn’t you know it? There was an hour’s wait, for any spot on the roof. I’d already eaten dinner at home, anyway, and so went up the street to Frozen Frannie’s, and grabbed a refreshing cup of goodness, then headed further, over to the Courthouse steps, enjoying pina colada and berry frozen yogurt. A group of children buzzed around me, alternately sliding down the short incline, tussling, and engaging in a game of hide and seek. It’s always reassuring to see that, COVID or no COVID, life is going on, and parents are taking their families to places where fresh air and exercise are not monitored by draconian elements.

After enjoying my frozen treat, a seat in front of a tree beckoned, closer to the Bluegrass band that was occupying a festival stage. Sitting on the lawn, taking in a bona fide North American art form, was a perfect ending to the evening. Another group of kids was dancing up a storm, twirling around, as the band played the songs of Bill Monroe and John Prine, among others. When it was time to get up off my haunches, I noticed something was missing from my childhood: Grass stains. Lawns sure have changed, in 60 years.

Elasticity, Drums and A Nerf Torpedo

2

March 8, 2020, Phoenix- 

I drove down here, this afternoon, to take in the last day of a the three-day McDowell Mountain Music Festival (M3F), held in my former home base’s spacious Hance Park.  This is a time when I touch base, however briefly, with a hyper-energetic artist friend, Pam Mayer, who dances, with and without hoops, encourages young women to do the same and rivets the attention of many, with her irrepressible mien.  Today was more of the same- I may not be Pam’s favourite pest, but  do get in enough quips, and pitches for the Drum Circle that is M3F’s spiritual centerpiece, to get at least a few eye rolls out of the Valley’s most mature “teenage girl” (my term, not hers).  I don’t go looking for her, mind you, but if I turn around at the right moment, there she is, hoops and all.  So it was, this afternoon, at two of the five locations to which I wandered.  Good hoop dancing requires elasticity, which God knows I fairly lack and of which Pam has an abundance.  She’s a treasure.

The other riveting thing about this festival, besides the music, is the mass of humanity.  There was no climate of fear in this gathering- with people of every age, generation and ethnicity-in abundance.  I spent a fair amount of time bouncing along to both reggae and country rock bands, as well as taking in a show by a techno-pop DJ.  He calls himself Bardz.

20200308_142508

20200308_143738

At the country rock set, Los Colognes, a band out of Nashville, kept us leaning in and bouncing along. They have not been back to their own homes, to assess any damage from the recent deadly tornado, so the poignant musical tribute to Music City was one of the auditory high points of the day.  I wish the guys safe passage home.

20200308_171359

In between the reggae set  by The Green, not pictured, as I was too busy bouncing up and down, and practicing my shaka (easier with the right hand, than with the left, for some reason), and LC’s performance, I took a brief rest, along the black mesh fence at the park’s northern edge.  There, I was captivated by two adorable children, who were tossing a Nerf torpedo back and forth, sometimes getting in the personal spaces of other concert goers.  Everyone played along though, and when the toy ended up in The  Green’s buffer zone, event security people gleefully came over and gave the torpedo back to one of the kids.

That brings me to the Drum Circle.  This time, I sat in on both of the sessions.  Hand drumming, besides bouncing along to the music, is one of my favourite sound-centered pastimes.  Today was no exception, and as I kept up with the drum master’s rhythms, it was enjoyable to also encourage a variety of people to join in.  A couple of  families were led by one or two of the children to sit in and a couple of elders joined the festivities.

The festival’s energy and vibrations were perhaps best summed up by a group of five friends, who clasped their right hands together, towards the end of Los Colognes’ set.  Even in this challenging month and season, with Coronavirus and the accompanying economic setbacks, we are together in this joyous thing called life.

 

 

 

 

 

Sheryl Crow

4

February 22, 2020, Indio-

I have promised myself that this year, besides being my last year of full-time work, will be focused on the arts (especially music), honouring First Nations and reaching out to the rising generations as an ally.

With that in mind, some time ago, I accepted an online invitation from the singer Sheryl Crow, through her publicist, to attend a concert in this revitalized city on the eastern edge of California’s Colorado Desert. It’s been forty-eight years since I attended a performance by a musical A-Lister (1972, Harry Chapin).  Since Sheryl is one whom I follow on Facebook, it was a natural choice.

Making the trip resulted in not attending more spur-of-the-moment performances by local artists, back in Prescott, but I do spontaneous events back at Home Base,, all the time.  A major recording artist, or any touring musician, has to book venues and make plans, in consultation with the band and staff, well in advance.

Indio, over time, has had the good sense to nurture resort tourism, especially with the lucrative music festival in nearby Coachella becoming huge, on the concert calendar.  Fantasy Springs Resort is owned and operated by the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians.  With its golf course, casino and three-star hotel, the sparkling resort attracts top-flight entertainers.

Though the show started late, so as to give the audience’s many stragglers time to get seated, I felt I got my money’s worth, and I had a great seat-in the front and to the left of the stage. Had I been a bit less shy, I might have made a new friend of the comely lady sitting, and at one point dancing, alone on the other side of the stairway, but I was  primarily there for my friend’s music.  Excuses, excuses.

Sheryl and her band put on a rousing, energizing show, with her major pop hits of the past three decades and, reassuringly, her new material.  She included a couple of songs on which she had collaborated with the Eagles’ Joe Walsh, known for his unique high-pitched voice, as well as his intense guitar licks.  The lead guitarist emulated Joe’s command of the instrument, whilst a rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist nailed Joe’s vocal style.  All of the guitarists, including Sheryl,  also showed mastery of the keyboards, as they moved from one great delivery to another.

The nicest thing about bands like this is the sense of family.  Sheryl is the head of the group, but is no prima donna.  They are appreciative of  the audience, but there is no pandering- the band took no breaks and at the end of the one hundred five- minute set, there was a heartfelt thank you extended to the audience, the band left the stage and the road crew began dismantling the equipment-no gratuitous encore.  A recording of Sheryl’s past concert material filled the air, as we filed out. Ten o’clock is late enough for everyone involved in  putting the show together, to get their work done, and get their deserved rest.

The one aspect of the trip that had concerned me, returning to Prescott for tomorrow’s morning events, would turn out to be quite routine.  In the meantime, and always, I can say with a couple of other, very vocal, concert-goers:  I love you, Sheryl!

 

The Groundhog and The Rattler

6

February 2, 2020-

Punxsutawney Phil “said” it’ll be an early Spring.  Phil is the latest of a line of groundhogs, all named Phil, who have been enticed out of their lairs, for these past 114 years, in western Pennsylvania.  Before that, Germans reportedly lured hedgehogs out of their dens, on February 2.  In each case, if the animal saw its shadow, there would be six more weeks of Winter.  If it didn’t see its shadow, Spring was close at hand.

Here in AZ, a rattlesnake, Agua Fria Freddie, saw its shadow, so Spring is close at hand.  Had it been cloudy, we would be expecting six more weeks of BRRRR.  Not really- we rarely see snow, and only a bit more frequently experience cold weather, in the winter months.  Last year’s late February “Snowmageddon” was an anomaly.

Good fun aside, the continent is expecting a One Day Big Chill, this week and a few storms are predicted for later this month.   February, Valentine’s Day aside, is a month that, along with August, many folks love to hate.  Let’s be fair, though.  The Mini-Month has its share of surprises, and this past week’s relatively mild weather was no exception.  Valentine’s Day, even without a significant other, is a day for affirming love-of various kinds.  Presidents’ Day brings a break that does not entail pre-determined community obligations and, for some, a new car.  Leap Day is one of those anomalies that brings a birthday which implies aging only every four years.

So, our animal friends have “prognosticated” a month that would seem to satisfy just about everyone.  We are not easily fooled, though, and will make the most of what actually comes to pass.

 

 

Salubrity

2

January 11, 2020-

There was snow on the ground, yesterday.

Now, it is only in the shadows,

with next Friday bringing a chance of more.

The air is fresh today.

Shortly,

free, fair and healthy

will be on the agenda,

as several of us consider

ways to better grow one’s own.

Soup is in the crockpot,

and will be ready

by this evening.

Yesterday evening,

two wildly divergent

forms of music

brought solace to our ears.

This evening,

we may  hear

even more sweet sounds.

There is salubrity,

in the air,

and in my heart.

The Decade’s Top Ten: Visual Media

6

December 28, 2019- 

It’s high time for me to reflect back on 2010-19, with regard to a couple of topics, today and tomorrow, at least.  In my mind, the decade is nearly over.  I know there are those who figure that this decade has another year to run-as there was no “Year Zero”, and therefore, the first decade A.D. started with Year 1.  Technically, they’re correct, but I was born in 1950, so MY decades start with numbers ending in zero.  Anyone else may figure the passage of time, as s(he) sees fit.

Anyway, let me look at my ten favourite films and television series of the past ten years.

10.  Law and Order:  SVU– The subject matter is odious and the antagonists are almost always unsympathetic, but the role played by such peace officers as bring sexual perpetrators, no matter how well-connected, to justice, is gratifying to see.  The great Mariska Hargitay’s portrayal of an all-too-human Section Leader has been quite a year-to-year evolution.

9. Game of Thrones– Also chock full of odious subject matter, and the Grand Daddy of “Medieval Life meets Modern English Profanity” (which is now found in abundance, across Netflix and Prime Video).  It is, however, a well-crafted blend of stories and romans-a-clef, unfolding over eight seasons. The series writers did seem to run out of steam and rushed things along, in the last two episodes, but all in all it was a riveting series.

8. Mr. Robot– This mix of Sci Fi and government intrigue is also riveting, over time, with a good dose of snarkiness, especially in the way it portrays “secret” government operations and corporate decision-making.

7.  The Star Wars series- The last three films mirror the first three, which were actually the middle episodes.  The main pull, for me, was seeing how age had affected the three young heroes of the original triad. They were twenty-somethings when I was in that decade of life, so their aging reflected my aging, though I remain happily earthbound.

6.  Supernatural– The original monster hunters, (the maudlin Ghostbusters                       notwithstanding),  two brothers who have one another’s backs and don’t flinch at the most hideous of demons, are among the few TV protagonists I find worthy of bing-watching.

5.  The Hunger Games series- I never tire of watching Jennifer Lawrence prevail over both obvious and slightly-concealed adversaries, and she never plays the same role in more than one film, or series. I also am a huge fan of common folk, especially young people, speaking, and bringing, truth to power.  There was enough intrigue and trickery employed by the snarky Donald Sutherland and the diabolical Julianne Moore to make Jenn and her allies keep thinking on their feet.

4.  Winter’s Bone– While I am referencing Ms. Lawrence, the role where she first got my attention was that of Ree Dolley, the unsupervised teen who  looks for answers about the disappearance of her father.  This was a dark and saddening film, but the girl who won’t give up is one character type for whom I am always cheering.

3.  Dr. Who– I admit, I am a latecomer to this series, one of television’s most enduring SciFi entries.  Nonetheless, the concept of time travel, especially for the purpose of righting wrongs, is a fascinating notion-even if, in practice, it would engender never-ending chaos.

2.  The Martian– I am a die-hard “Earthbounder”, but Matt Damon’s semi-comedic astronaut gave much food for thought, and a little for nutrition, in this exploration of the practical side of interplanetary settlement.

1.  Spotlight– It didn’t quite go far enough, in exposing the true lengths, to which powerful people go, in protecting those who abuse and intimidate children, but the Spotlight series, the result of an intense investigation by my first hometown newspaper, The Boston Globe,  opened the gates for worldwide exposure of not only Catholic priests committing sexual abuse, but of a wide variety of institutions, whose members transgressed their boundaries.  It was the father of #MeToo, in many ways. The film brought the investigation out, masterfully.

This is just my own list, and there are many other visual media that merit praise.  I am always interested in what others regard as worthy of mention.