No Black Thursday

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November 24, 2016, Julian, CA-  This little town, northeast of San Diego, has been our Thanksgiving hub, for three of the last four years.  Only in 2014 were we diverted to Aram’s ship, for what was an estimable meal, in its own right.  Otherwise, Julian Cafe has been an irresistible venue- for one of the best traditional Thanksgiving meals this side of the Appalachians.

Julian appeals to Aram, because it reminds him of Prescott and Flagstaff.  The oak forests that surround the town, and the Laguna Mountains, to its southeast, are of immense comfort to one who was born , and spent his first years, in a forested landscape.

It appeals to me, as all mountain towns do, because Saugus ( my home town), and so many towns in New England, are similarly entwined with rugged landscapes and a wealth of historical nuggets.  Julian’s history is inextricably linked to the California Gold Rush.  Southern California had several spots which, while not as noteworthy as the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, nontheless contributed to Gold Fever.

What appeals to neither of us is Black Thursday, as some have taken to calling the afternoon and evening of Thanksgiving Day.  There may be some LIMITED need for some people to pick up groceries, in the morning, as I did on behalf of Aram and his housemates, around 8:30 this morning, at the local Ralph’s store.  I can’t see either of us shopping for deals on Thanksgiving, ever.  I understand some want that to be their Thanksgiving tradition, but I stay with family remaining focused on non-commercial pursuits.

We had another awesome meal, with his two housemates along.  This will be the last time, though, for at least three years, as he heads across the Pacific, in a few months’ time.  That made it an especially treasured repast.

 

Thoughts on Thanksgivings Past

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November 23, 2016, El Centro-  Upon stopping in this slowly revitalizing “capital” of the Colorado Desert, in southeast California, I made it my priority to enjoy breakfast for dinner, and have at a combo, of sausage links, scrambled eggs, hash browns and Chocolate Peppermint pancakes, at the local IHOP.

A flood of Thanksgiving memories ensued, which I now share.  My first memories are of Grandmother Kusch saying that it was a fine thing I enjoyed Roast Turkey with stuffing, as it would be my birthday meal, on many a year.  This was when I was about six, or so.  Most of the school time memories of Thanksgiving time were of the maudlin:  Paper Pilgrim hats, or, as I preferred, Wampanoag headdresses.  I later learned that the Native Peoples of the Northeast were not so given to such attire, though the deerskin clothing that accompanied them, was genuine.

Sis and I liked to mix the various kinds of soda, which we called tonic, in Bostonese.  Root beer mixed with orange Nehi was one of my favourites.  I imagined the crispy bottom of the stuffing was “buffalo meat”, for some strange reason.  Whatever, the whole meal was always marvelous, and I have been able to eat turkey, in various guises, for days on end, throughout my life.

I’ve had mostly fond memories of Thanksgiving, while wishing the good will would always be there.  in 1985, it was, until someone realized it was also my birthday, and she was angry with me, for various things I had not done, in the months prior, and a tongue lashing ensued.  Our subsequent Thanksgivings, and my birthdays since,  went much more smoothly.

I can only recall one Thanksgiving when I was alone.  It was 1981, and I ate at a table for one, at Swiss Village, in Payson.  The service was spotty, and I came away from the meal, vowing to not be totally alone that day, ever again.  I have since kept that promise.

Many Thanksgivings were observed, courtesy of the Robbins family, in Prescott, with two kinds of turkey:  Oven-roasted and deep-fried.  Both were exquisite.  There was also a tofurkey.  It was not exquisite.  The Robbins’ were once known as the family Rabinowitz, but homogenization took that away.  They remain one of the most noble families I’ve ever known.

For the past four years, Aram and I have gone to Julian Cafe, northeast of San Diego.  Penny worked in Julian, for a year, in 1981-82, so the place has a wealth of fond memories- and some of the most delectable apple pie, anywhere.

We will head there again, tomorrow afternoon.

 

Bean Soup

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January 5, 2016, Prescott-  This is one of those periods when the challenges that get thrown at me, by the Universe, however maudlin they may be next to the plight of countless refugees, come to be seen as blessings.

I have resolved the financial challenge that hit me as soon as I got back here, and the compensation will be in my hands on Thursday.  In the meantime, I am warm, dry and, when I’m not working, occupying myself at home with many of the things that get put off, in the course of a busy life.

One of those things is inventorying the types of beans I have, sitting in the cupboard, and readying a multi-bean soup.  With my crock pot poised and ready, I should have a hearty series of meals awaiting me tomorrow morning.  Beans take time, but sustain me, in the few instances of this First World existence that I find the wallet empty.

Meanwhile, as I ignore calls and e-mails asking for the money I don’t have, my preparations for a more solid future go on.  It’s been a good morning, thus far, and I aim for the afternoon to be just as fine.

Piedras Pintadas and National City’s Fillippi’s

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November 28, 2015, Chula Vista- My latest day in the sun featured over 125 birthday greetings, and muchas gracias to one and all, for remembering what was, for me, a most auspicious day.

There were no intervening, pre-planned events in the apartment, as it happened.  Holiday spirit, and fatigue, intervened to postpone those gatherings.  So, it was on with a visit to Piedras Pintadas, picked from the rich list of hiking opportunities in San Diego, owing to its relative brevity, it being 1:30 PM before we learned of the day’s cancellations.

The trail is part of the San Dieguito River Trail system, and revolves around the ubiquitous glacial boulders of southwest California, and Lake Hodges.  Here are some of the scenes we found.

The first two (clockwise, left to right) show the lake, with Bernardo Mountain looming in the background.  The third shows Piedras Pintadas themselves.  In times of precipitation, there is a small waterfall, up in the high rocks.  The lower left features SoCal’s signature boulders, and son rounds out the montage.

We finished the trail in about forty-five minutes, and with other items on the agenda, headed back to Chula.  Next up was dinner, at the National City branch of Fillippi’s, one of my two favourite Little Italy eateries.  Like its parent establishment, the NC Fillippi’s was jam-packed, on this lovely Saturday evening.  We were seated, and had soup, garlic bread and beverages in front of us, in less than thirty minutes, though.  A young boy who shares my birthday was getting his due, of song and a birthday treat.  I passed on even announcing my day.  There was enough hoopla, here online.  Had we been in a larger party, perhaps, but two men?- NAH.

The meal was excellent, and we headed out the door in time to catch the 7:05 showing of “Spectre”, Daniel Craig’s purported James Bond swansong.  It lived up to the basic Bond formula, though a bit long at 3 hours.

So six-five is now in full swing, and I will be back tomorrow, with a new framework, for the second half of my seventh decade.

 

 

The Road to 65, Miles 267-8: Tears

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August 22-23, 2015, Prescott- I have read a few posts online, and pondered some situations in real time, this rather busy weekend, and have shed very real tears.  Mostly, they come from regarding the genuine kindness shown to suffering, frightened children, or from reading of the very real emotions felt by those who have lost loved ones, so far this year, and there are so many such friends.  My tears come when I am alone, and can focus on things like the pain of other human beings.

Saturday was largely celebratory, in my Prescott circle:  A mesquite flour pancake breakfast reminded me of how we would function, if the stock market crashed and took many people’s jobs, and life savings, with it.  We would learn to forage, and we would have to get along better than many of us have chosen to get along with others.  Mostly, though, my breakfast companion and I enjoyed the delicious repast and talked of a plan she has to start a sustainable community in east Texas, somewhere.

I left her to take her first tour of Arcosanti, and went to an American Legion picnic, where lunch, mercifully, was not served until nearly 1:30 PM.  I had to contrast the atmosphere with the earlier event.  Legion folks tend to welcome one another to sit down, talk and pass the time convivially.  (The mostly upper class folks who attend Slow Food events tend to frown on anyone they don’t know sitting anywhere near their table.  Fortunately, my friend and I had a section of the long table, where we would be far enough away from the well-dressed woman who recoiled in annoyance, as we took our seats.)

Anyway, I got up and danced with a few of the ladies, during the live music portions of the picnic, both before and after the meal.  I am a passable dancer, when it comes to the steps we all learned as teens and young adults.  The easy conversations we had also made the event more worthwhile.

Sunday morning, after the customary Legion breakfast, our area Baha’is gathered, and discussed matters of living and sharing our Faith, and serving the larger community.  As we talked, a heavy downpour, which not everyone had expected, blessed our consultations.  The sky cleared later, long enough for us to get to our after-meeting lunch.  Then, during lunch, there was a second downpour.  I think the spirits cried tears of joy.

My mood right now is pensive, because the whole matter of my mother’s safety, this coming winter, remains unresolved.  It’ll get figured out, soon, and either I will do my filial labour of love, or actually stay in the Southwest, for the bulk of the next twelve to sixteen months.  I am grateful, though, for my varied and widening circle of friends.