Can and Will

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January 5, 2019, Prescott-

I woke up this morning, my legs stiff from yesterday’s hike, and hit upon the idea of high stepping, as a way of loosening the joints.  It worked and my left knee feels mobile and, I dare say, good as new.  Many of our difficulties with aging come from disuse, or improper use, of our parts.  That’s not the whole shebang, but it does have a lot to do with quality of life, as the years roll on- and I fully intend to go for the maximum.

This evening, I went to watch a silly Transformers film, mainly because the story line was about a teenager in whom no one believed.  Such people have been my heart, for so long, that I wanted to see the predictable triumph over self and others, which doesn’t always happen in real time.  She fixed a car and made a friend-the rest falling into place, haphazardly, but nicely.

Other films coming up will feature women who stand tall and beat oppressors.  This has always been important to me, that both boys and girls know they can go the distance and reach whatever heights to which they aspire-so long as they take life’s setbacks and turn them into comebacks.

Five years ago, this June, I visited  the tower where Jeanne d’Arc was imprisoned and  stood on the spot where she was immolated.  Today, no one gives much thought to the fact that the leader of French resistance to foreign rule was a peasant woman.  She is seen as simply having been a leader.

No human, who stands for what is in the heart and does the work necessary to accomplish deeply-cherished goals, is doomed to failure.

Samson

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December 27, 2018, Prescott-

The evening dinner and discourse, at a good friend’s house, went very well, actually- as I am just not attached to those aspects of my personality that someone finds disconcerting.  The run-up to, and expectations of, a conversation about what people expect from one another, can be uncomfortable and filled with trepidation.  Thankfully, I felt no such angst, once I recited a strong prayer, this afternoon.  My friend was not sure how I would react to her comments, but you know, what she asked is so totally reasonable and fair, that my answer was “Absolutely!” That is how I was raised- with Mom telling us not to hold back with our upsets and distresses, so long as they were stated with dignity and a bit of forbearance.  So, the evening went, a nice meal, a respectful concord and the viewing of the film, “Samson”.

Therein, the story of the Hebrew leader and freedom fighter is depicted, with an earnest but troubled Samson, opposed by both some of his more militant Danite villagers and by the Phillistines, ruled by Balek and his ambitious, conniving son, Rallah, and daughter-in-law, Delilah.  It is Delilah who tricks Samson, three times, into giving the royals the information and strength they need to oppress the Danites and Nazarites.  Rallah, though, is portrayed as a sociopath, killing Samson’s wife and father-in-law, two turncoat Hebrews and Samson’s father, before killing his own father, so as to take the crown.  The tale ends, much as it does in the Old Testament.

Samson’s main point is about integrity and humility, with the superhuman giving all credit for his strength to God, not disputing with his Hebrew opponents, and facing the Phillistine’s challenges without batting an eye.  He experiences angst about not following the letter of the law, whilst removing tunics from dead soldiers, thereby breaking a vow to never touch the dead.  The angst follows Samson, for other actions, throughout the story.

I am likewise committed to integrity and self-purification.  Not being a superhuman, or a member of an oppressed community, my own actions have to be about maintaining both my own dignity and worth, and honouring those of my friends.  It’ll never be a matter of “self-defense”, when questioned or corrected, especially by those who have consistently had my best interests in mind.

Notes from The Peaceful Sky

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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.

Acker Night

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December 7, 2018, Prescott-

Every strong community has its special day of community gathering-whether it be a Founders Day or Day of Incorporation.  Prescott has several days of community celebration, including Frontier Days, in July, and Tsunami on the Square, in September. Acker Night, in honour of local arts patron James Acker, is celebrated on the first Friday night in December, and features a variety of musicians, holding court in over 130 downtown businesses.  The aim is to raise money for arts scholarships, and the donations are usually copious.

I’ve gone down there, for 6 of the seven years I’ve lived here continuously and for both Decembers that Penny, Aram and I lived here, previously.  It’s always a incredibly joyful time, regardless of weather or temperature.  I end up taking in at least three performances, usually more.

Tonight, the American Legion post had its annual Christmas Dinner, which took up most of the time allotted to Acker Night.  I still managed to run into a trio of friends, in the heart of the Square.  A couple of visits to performances in the Shops at Hotel  St.Michael followed.  I ended up at the shop of a friend:  Ms. Natural’s and caught their guest guitarist winding up his act.  Claudia’s apple cinnamon cake and a robust coffee  topped off the evening, and I slipped out quietly, so the ladies could finish their closing activities.

On the way back to my apartment, these scenes caught my eye.

Over two thousand people, many from the Phoenix area,  as well us locals, attended this evening’s festivities.  It’s events like this which help give Prescott the moniker, “Everybody’s Hometown”.

Face The Lion

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October 28, 2018, Prescott-

One month remains of my being 67.  October, thus far, has been another instance of what the forest rangers call “facing the lion”, the feline in this case being a mountain lion (aka cougar or puma).  The broader meaning of this, of course, is facing one’s trials, without flinching.

I stood for what I believe, earlier this month, was castigated for it by a troubled soul and am not sorry for standing my ground.  I have promised to not harp on this, so I won’t. The most important thing is that, if I am all but ordered to compromise who I am, under pain of disapproval- I will take the scratches and bite marks of disapproval.

Physically, I have recovered from a mild injury to my left knee and am maintaining a rehabilitative exercise regimen.  It was gratifying to have returned to our local Planet Fitness, this evening, and to have been able to complete my usual exercise regimen, with a few modifications.

Yesterday, I chose to stay close to home during the day, rather than go down to Phoenix for what would have been a mere hour, before returning to this area for a Halloween party.  The day was greatly satisfying, though, as I attended a Fall Festival, at the site of the chiropractic office which I use.  There were many raffles, and I won a plastic sled.  The sled ended up going to a five-year-old boy.  I believe every child ought to have the enjoyment of sledding on snow- and in his grandparents’ yard, to boot!

The Halloween party, at my lead teacher’s home, was a masterful blend of food and imaginative visual effects.   There were “talking” creepy ghouls and monsters and a fine variety of hot and cold buffet items.  The best part, though, were their three German shepherds, including a very vocal albino G.S., named Lloyd.  He and I got along just fine, as I would talk back to him, saying it’s all okay.

I got mesmerized by yet another replay of Bette Midler’s classic “Hocus Pocus”, which we used to play every Halloween, when Aram was a child.  It’s been a while, so looking back on how different child characters stood up to Bette’s character and her sisters was a treat.

Yes, some lions are more comical than others. Some are more problematic. All must be faced with confidence and courage.

The 2018 Road, Day 38: Memphis, Part 3-Resolute, Whilst Sitting On A Beale Street Sidewalk

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July 2, 2018, Memphis-

The man to whom I am referring, in the above subtitle, was one of a relative few who were sitting in various spots, along Memphis’ touristy and bustling Beale Street, “Birthplace of the Blues”.  I had no green in my wallet, and so gave him a few quarters-though I generally avoid such donations.  He is a man my age, though, and probably served in “the Nam”, which tends to be more of a bond than many might understand. So, I dug in my pocket.  Of course, it was something of an insult and he yelled in protest, as I made my way back towards my car, parked just off the riverfront.  He struck me as being altogether determined to survive and maintain his place in that particular spot.

There is, in Memphis, a publication called The Bridge, which is sold in tourist areas.  I bought one, from a man working the parking lot of the National Civil Rights Museum.  Ironically, the lead article was about the last regular occupant of Lorraine Motel, who was evicted to make way for its conversion into a tourist venue.  She stands, most days, across the street from the Museum, holding a protest sign and calling for more humane treatment of the very people for whom Dr. King fought.

I did notice, as well, there was a certain hardness about the people, mainly African-American, who were working in the Museum. As cogent and compelling as the subject matter was to me, to them, it seemed like just a job-from the no-nonsense ticket seller to the bored young lady sitting in a nearly empty gift shop, in the annex, across from Lorraine Motel.

I carefully parked my Hyundai in a lot one block from Beale Street.  The place is a sanitized version of the place known by W.C. Handy and B.B. King, and tourists, many of whom perhaps have buried their own Blues, were in full force on this Monday afternoon.  I contented myself with buying one t-shirt, actually one of two trinkets I’ve picked up, this journey.  (The other was a “Moose” t-shirt from Ausable Chasm.) I might have dropped into one of the several restaurants that line the five-block area, but Arcade took care of my hunger, very well.  Beale Street is an area that is worth visiting, at least once. On another trip this way, I would figure to spend more time in places like Sun Studios.

Here are some Beale Street scenes.

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Above, is the west entrance to the entertainment district.  Below, the Orpheum Theater has hosted a good many musical events, for nine decades.

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The name, itself, tells all.

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Here is a view of the heart of Beale Street.

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I got my t-shirt at Beale Street Gifts, an unpretentious and very busy little shop. In the background is the east entrance to the district.

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I came across this sculpture, in Beale Street’s small park, just after my encounter with the leonine man on the sidewalk.

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The widely revered, but tortured, Elvis Presley will always be a part of Memphis.

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Leaving Beale Street, I spent a short time on Memphis’ Riverwalk, paying my respects to the Big Muddy.

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On the river, many visitors took in the sights from one of two river boats.  Here is the Memphis Queen.

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A smaller vessel took visitors further upriver, to the north side of downtown, near Mud Island.

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As I prepared to head towards Arkansas, one last look uptown was in order.  The Pyramid will be on a future itinerary-if for no other reason than that it is there.  Pyramids, even commercial ones, are symbols of hope and unity.

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I crossed the I-55 bridge, wending my way past West Memphis and cruising through Arkansas, stopping only for a light convenience store supper, in Conway.  Sallisaw, OK offered the night’s lodging, at Sallisaw Inn.  The town seems to have grown a bit, since I was here in 2016.

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 22: No Greater Heights Than This

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June 16, 2018, Philadelphia-

It doesn’t surprise me, in the least, that this family of mine has given my mother’s youngest grandchild a spectacular launch into her own little family unit.  She is much loved, across the board and has maintained a solid, unifying presence among us, and well before the advent of social media. B helped me with her aunt, when I had to get Beloved to a restroom, down a freight elevator, and through an obscure section of an old hotel, years ago. She maintained contact with those of my nephews who were off, alone, at colleges that were some distance from the rest of the family.  She kept in touch with my son, when it would have been easy to leave him to his own devices, in the days of his naval  basic training and early regular duty.

So, we all came to Christ Church, expanding our family by one new grandson-in-law and one future granddaughter-in-law for our blessed matriarch to cherish.

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The above should give readers a frame of reference.  We were asked, by the rector, to not photograph the ceremony or the inside.  The newlyweds have plenty of photos to share, in that respect, and I leave it at that.

The ceremony did not start, however, until 4 P.M., so there was time for me to look further around the Independence Historic District, before Aram and YH were ready to meet for lunch.  Here is Congress Hall, where the Federal legislative branch met from December, 1790- May, 1800. .

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The Main Gallery of Independence Hall is below.

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Next along my walk was the Liberty Bell Pavilion, of which more tomorrow.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Here is Old City Hall, which also served as the first U.S. Supreme Court Chamber.

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Below is the Second Bank of the United States Portrait Gallery.

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Here is a view into the Independence Hall courtyard.

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Having to meet Aram and YH, I hurried on over to the Center for Art in Wood.  They were suitably impressed by the gallery and by its shop.

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The three of us enjoyed a nice lunch at Cafe Ole, across the street from CAIW.  We then strolled around Betsy Ross House and briefly considered purchasing a 13-star flag.

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For now, though, this shadowy replica of the original Stars and Stripes will suffice.

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We will keep the wedding photos within the family, but I do want to share a few of the reception venue:  Knowlton Mansion.  Once again, the staff did their parts admirably, as did the band and vocalist.  As for me, I cut loose and danced more this evening than I have in about eighteen years.

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I do wish to share the intact wedding cake- always an affirmation of  good fortune and fertility.  The first, I wish for the new branch of the family.  The second is their business, alone.

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In any event, this day will long live as among the most beautiful with which I have had the pleasure of being involved- in at least seven years.

NEXT:  Father’s Day, Full Tilt

The 2018 Road, Day 7: Savouring American Routes

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June 2, 2018, Carthage, IL-

I had a decent night’s sleep, in my premium room at Budget Inn, before embarking on a morning and noon of enjoying some of the International Ragtime Festival, downtown Sedalia.

The Festival is sparked by Scott Joplin’s connection with Sedalia, but many others are celebrated by the Festival:  James Scott, James P. Johnson, Jelly Roll Morton, Gene Greene and Eubie Blake (whom I once had the pleasure of meeting and hearing, in person. Mr. Blake could still play piano and sing, at the age of 90.)

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Approaching, and inside, the main performance tent, I found a skilled ragtime pianist entertaining the crowd, with both songs and stories of James Scott and Jelly Roll Morton, as well as of john Philip Sousa, whose energetic marches influenced ragtime, as well.

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One must also eat, whilst at a festival of this sort, and eating local foods is always preferable.  This food truck offered “hand-cut, hand-breaded tenderloin” sandwiches.  I got one, with hand-squeezed fresh lemonade.  It lasted me the rest of the day.  (“Chilli” refers to Chillicothe, MO).

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Lastly, this performer was focusing his energies on the work of James P. Johnson.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

So, the day was a perfect counterpoint to last night’s confusion and disappointment.  I went on to visit a couple, now living in Columbia, who were American Legion friends in Prescott.  Then I headed riverward.

The Mississippi, from Hamilton, IL, southeast of Keokuk, IA, offered this sunset.

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I had the best of what was left me in my cooler, at the quiet Smith Memorial Roadside Park, in Missouri, just west of Keokuk.  Out of respect, I did a bit of clean-up on the property, before eating.

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Stopping in Nauvoo, the last residence of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I found that it would not have been a good idea to take twilight photos.  All the houses are occupied, and a vigilant security guard was there, to warn away evening visitors.  It is a hauntingly pretty place in early evening, though.

 

 

 

The 2018 Road,Day 6: Jerry-rigging and Resolving Confusion

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June 1, 2018, Sedalia, MO-   I exited Limon, around 8AM, as the goal was to get across Kansas and to Sedalia as quickly as possible, as I had read what sounded like an invitation to a premier musical festival, Dutch treat of course, but interesting, nonetheless.  Just so we’re clear, I do not regard Kansas, or any place other than the ocean- as flyover country.

Here are a couple of reasons, one in particular, why I chose to stop in Limon last night.  Yes, they share our mascot!

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I headed out with a bit of the continental breakfast under my belt, and had a fairly easy drive- though I stopped several places en route, to reinforce the duct tape that is keeping a loose panel on my car in place.  Jerry rigging is not my favourite way of keeping things together, but it’ll not be until tomorrow before I can properly apply the JB Weld that’ll secure the piece for good- and then only weather permitting.  The wind across Kansas was especially vigourous today.  Otherwise, I stopped only in Colby for a hot dog and kept well on track.  Even Kansas City, at 6 P.M., was not a problem.

I arrived in Sedalia around 8 P.M., and found what was apparently the last single bed room in town.  Not surprising was this, given the International cast laid upon the Ragtime Festival, honouring Scott Joplin, a key promulgator of ragtime, who lived in Sedalia for several years and taught piano there.  One of Sedalia’s major thoroughfares is named in his honour.

I went downtown for about an hour, and learned that the person who invited me here was unable to join the festivities, tonight or tomorrow.  It took a fair amount of mental processing to figure that one out, but I did get some enjoyment out of the bit of ragtime that was being performed in a large brew pub- despite my not being one to go sit in a bar with people who have no interest in me as a person.

Sedalia is a lovely town, though, as we will see tomorrow.  In the meantime, here are a few scenes of downtown, by night.

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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.