Tribes and Such

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September 6, 2021- Today being Labor Day in the U.S., many thoughts and expressions of thanks were offered to Frances Perkins, whose reaction to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, of March 25, 1911, metamorphized into the workplace safety movement of the 1930s-1970s. That it reached many of its goals is a grand social triumph, but it will never be something that can be set on a shelf. Human greed and self-centeredness can and will seep back into the consciousness of social policy, if we are not careful. Ms. Perkins was a genuine American hero and it would not be a bad thing at all, were her visage to grace one of the bills or coins of United States currency-perhaps even a bitcoin, if it becomes part of the American exchequer.

This afternoon, I visited my somewhat laid-up hiking buddy, who was injured last week and is now on extended hiatus from the trails. Our conversation turned the matter of another friend finding her tribe. HB remarked that my tribe was all over the place, which is true, essentially. I have detailed the names of friends, extended family and those I regard as angels. That some are on one end of the ideological spectrum and some on the other end, with most in between, does not trouble either my basically progressive stance on many matters or belief in the sanctity of all life.

Some tribal members are solely seen on Zoom, these days. Others hang out in downtown Prescott, or at Rafter Eleven, or at Synergy Cafe. Some live in western Arizona, northern Nevada, eastern Tennessee, northern Indiana or all along the three coasts. My heart family, as I’ve said repeatedly, is found in any number of places and I know I will find more of them, as time unfolds.

There will always be outliers, who can be accepted for who they are, as long as they don’t hurt others. One such was a young man, with a rather pleasant voice, who sang acapella on the edge of Courthouse Square, this afternoon. He sang “I love myself and I love you (to a few random passersby). I love my backscratcher (which he held up, for all to see).” Telling him he had earned A for effort, I placed a tip in his jar and walked further around the Square, taking in the Crafts Fair and the blessed mass of humanity who had gathered along the sidewalks. I don’t mind crowds. They are proof that our species is alive and thriving.

Many thanks to all who labour honestly, today and every day.

A Natural Pace

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February 15, 2021-

It took a while, and a few messages back and forth, before I connected with a friend who recently moved out here, from the East Coast. Once we did finally meet up, a delightful two hours of conversation and The Raven’s usual fine lunch ensued. Friend got an introduction to downtown Prescott, Courthouse Square and one of the town’s many antique shops.

It will be a process of acclimation to higher elevation for my friend, but it will be nice to have at least an occasional hiking buddy and someone to tag along for other outings, like Synergy Music Nights. The key to this is that my life is resuming a natural pace. Work will wind down, after this week, and after Spring Break, I will cut back to three days a week of availability. It is time to focus on the avocational.

There is much to be done for my Faith and so much of my stamina to be rebuilt, with more time on the trails and a greater devotion to overall exercise. I have come a long way, towards letting life unfold at a natural pace, not so much focused on making things happen according to my schedule. The organic unfoldment of this day taught me a lot, in that regard, and it felt refreshing.

Insurrection Is Not The Way

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January 6, 2021- After getting a welcome adjustment from my chiropractor, this evening, I happened by downtown Prescott, where a small group of Trump supporters were standing on the northeast corner of Courthouse Square, as they have been doing, at least once a week, since 2015. Quite often, there will be a group of progressives standing either across the street or on the northwest corner, at the same time.

I have seen the two groups even mingle, at many public events on the Square, since I moved here, in 2011. The only times there has been tension have been when rumours, of mobs from out of town coming this way, have circulated. There are always a few disquiet individuals, usually driving by in their vehicles and shouting profanities at whoever is in view, or egging on those they sense might be easily drawn into a fight.

That is not the Prescott way. Many have growing up to do, with regard to getting along with people of colour or with those whose politics differ from their own. The larger community, though, has adopted a “Live and Let Live” ethic. That was how I was raised, in a hybrid Conservative/Liberal family, albeit in one of the most conservative communities in Massachusetts.

The main divide, as I see it, has two parts: 1. There is a sense, among those who get up early and turn in a full day’s work, rely on their own efforts and have a strong sense of tradition, that “Socialists” are aiming to take from them and give to others. In fairness, this comes from high rates of taxation and the extent to which the workings of government entail secrecy. If people don’t know the rhyme and reason of matters that affect them, it becomes easy for manipulators and grifters to move in and get them stirred into a frenzy.

On the other hand, are those whose forebears, or selves, have been shoved to the back of the line, repeatedly, by self-styled elites, in terms of full participation in civic and economic life. These elites have not been shy about simultaneously turning to the group that may be one rung higher than those on the lowest level, and cautioning that group against trusting those underneath. The argument has always been, “Look, those _______________ are coming for what’s rightfully yours”, whilst either the taxes go up or rights and privileges, for ALL those under the elite groups, are systematically snipped away.

It is human nature to let others handle certain aspects of life which are viewed as either boring or distasteful. When those chores have to do with rights and freedoms, such “delegation” can, and does, get rather dicey. It has, especially in modern times, become analogous to the shellfish in a pot of cold water, that is slowly heating up and which will turn the shellfish into a meal. There is always a quid pro quo, when someone comes to us and points out discrepancies, “which only they can fix.”

Those who are genuinely worried about losing rights and freedoms can’t afford to let clever or manipulative people of privilege, whether liberal or conservative, sweet-talk them into doing dirty work. This was done before, by the Planter Class of the antebellum South, who had little trouble recruiting lower-class white and First Nations people to do the dirty tasks associated with the system of enslavement and , later, to fight in the insurrection against a Federal government that was moving away from supporting that system. Conversely, a similarly cynical and rapacious Industrialist Class had little trouble engaging that same Federal government to recruit lower-class white and African-American people to try and subjugate First Nations people, both during and after the Civil War.

I saw today’s actions on Capitol Hill as reminiscent of the French Revolution, which, as we know, did not result in wholesale gains for the downtrodden masses. There are those who wanted only to take a deep dive into the electoral process of 2020. But for the lateness of the hour, and the fact that it has already been done, in several modes, that would have hurt nothing.

There were those who have long felt unheard and unloved by society, their only misfortune being that they have not been “in vogue” as a protected class. If each such group were to look carefully at history and look ahead to what is likely to transpire, long term, there would not be a rush to the feet of demogogues. There would be quite a bit of coalition-building, and it would very likely NOT involve the elites, at least for quite some time.

Insurrection, done in the heat of the moment, requires a different sort of power coalition. It involves making deals with those already holding certain levers of power. The original American Revolution succeeded partly because European enemies of Great Britain jumped into the fray. The aforementioned French Revolution is one example-it being whipsawed by the external enemies of the House of Bourbon. Sudan’s recent revolution was eased by manipulative elements in the country’s military, who now, wonder of wonders, are holding the balance of power. The same would happen here, and those fearful of socialism would find a different set of external totalitarians calling the shots, were today’s events escalate into full-blown rebellion.

There is always a quid pro quo, when one turns to power groups with their own agendas to do one’s baleful tasks. The only way forward is to adhere to the basics that were provided us, by the Framers, and later the Amenders, of the United States Constitution, a time-honoured, and much emulated, road map of governance. That, and the common people talking and listening to one another, across lines of ethnicity, class, religion and way of life.

Insurrection is not the way.

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

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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.

Home Base

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June 12, 2019-

Tomorrow, I will head up for a few days in another of my heart homes – Dineh/Hopi.  Yes, there are many of those, and this Home Base is one.  The road will then curve eastward.

In the meantime, life goes on here in Prescott-with a vengeance.  Many of you may be taking journeys of your own, over the next few months, and I can say time spent in this area is well worth the drive, or flight (Ernest A. Love Regional Airport is expanding its own “wings”, with more destinations offered by its tenant carriers).  So, let me go all Chamber of Commerce on you.

I’d offer my own Home Base on Airbnb, but it’s a tiny place and the landlord would not be happy.  So, I recommend either of two hostels:  Prescott International, on McCormick Street. (https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g31323-d4309329-Reviews-Prescott_International_Travelers_Hostel-Prescott_Arizona.html) or House in the Pines Hostel, on Virginia Street, two blocks west of my place, actually(https://www.hiphostelaz.com/).  There are a couple of great boutique hotels:  The Grand Highland, right smack downtown, on Whiskey Row (https://www.grandhighlandhotel.com) and Hotel Vendome, one block south of downtown, on Cortez Street (https://www.vendomehotel.com/).  There are two grand hotels:  Hassayampa Inn, on the corner of Gurley and Marina, is a premier spot for jazz in the courtyard (https://www.hassayampainn.com/) and Hotel St. Michael, on the north end of Whiskey Row, at the corner of Montezuma and Gurley, is a prime meeting place for locals and visitors alike. (http://www.stmichaelhotel.com/).  The chains have fine reps here, as well:  Hampton Inn, Marriott and Spring Hill Suites are either downtown, or within a short drive.  An independent hotel, Forest Hills Suites, is near the Marriott, east of town.

Now, the entertainment part:  Nature calls, pretty loudly, here, if you’ve seen my earlier posts.  The man-made lakes- Goldwater, Lynx, Watson, Willow and Granite Basin are all great for fishing, kayaking, canoeing and picnicking.  Lynx Lake has a paddle boat concession, as well.  Each of these has good trail systems, so the hiker is bound to feel happy.  Speaking of which, mountain trails abound, at all levels of difficulty, from Peavine Trail (easy) to Granite Mountain and Mt. Union (strenuous).  In between, are Thumb Butte, Prescott’s signature landmark, west of downtown and Granite Dells, a warren of trails, north of town, and mostly on private land, but generously shared with the public.  I have enjoyed most of the trails available here, over the past eight years.

Indoors?  Lots of good stuff here, too.  We have Elks Theater, in a restored grand opera house and Prescott Center for the Arts, in a restored church.  Both are downtown.  The Courthouse Plaza has many evening concerts, during the warmer months and street festivals abound, particularly on weekends.  Yavapai College, on the east side of town, and Prescott College, slightly northwest of downtown, offer many artistic events, as well.  YC hosts Prescott Farmers Market, on Saturday mornings (7:30-12).  Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, 5 miles north of downtown, has an Observatory open to the public.  Sharlot Hall Museum is a must, for anyone seeking to understand Prescott’s history.

Now for the  brew.  I don’t imbibe alcohol, but there are more places to sit and hoist a few than this post has space.  A  few, for which I can vouch:  Matt’s, The Bird Cage, Rickety Cricket and Lil’s are all on Whiskey Row.  The Raven Cafe, one of my favourite restaurants and music venues, also has a full bar.  Brewery/Restaurants also are in no short supply:  Prescott Brewing Company, Granite Mountain Brewing, Coppertop Alehouse, Barley Hound-you get the picture.  Coffee is also in plethora:  Wild Iris, Ms. Natural’s (my absolute fave restaurant, as well), The Porch, Frannie’s (also has great frozen yogurt and pastries), Cupper’s, Firehouse Coffee, McQueen/Rustic Pie (also a  food fave), Method (on the north side of town) and Third Shot (in Gateway Mall, three miles east of town) are a few who come to mind.

Prescott’s Eats?- I mentioned Ms. Natural’s (The owner and a couple of the servers are personal friends and the name says it all, with regard to the fare).  Rustic Pie, Shannon’s Gourmet Deli, Dinner Bell Cafe, El Gato Azul, Rosati’s, Two Mamas Pizzeria, Chi’s Cuisine and Bill’s Pizza are all relatively small venues, but well worth a try.  So, too, are the larger places- Murphy’s, Gurley Street Grill, The Office, Rosa’s Pizzeria, Lone Spur, Bill’s Grill, Zeke’s Eatin’ Place (in Frontier Village, east of town), Park Plaza Liquor/Deli.  Other spots abound, so have fun exploring.

Finally, a few words about the periphery.  Prescott Valley, our sister town, is worthy of a day or two of exploration all its own.  It’s a lot of strip malls to take in, but they have a warm feel about them.  Rafter Eleven is a superb place for wine, coffee and dipping oils, located a block north of Highway 69, off Glassford Hill Road.  Backburner Cafe is on the north side of town, at the corner of Robert Road and Spouse.  Further east are:  Dewey-Humboldt, with Leff-T’s Steak House and Casa Perez Family Restaurant, plus a cute “Main Street”, at Humboldt; Mayer, with Flourstone Bakery and Arcosanti, a fascinating eco-architectural establishment.  Northwards is Chino Valley, with Danny B’s Seafood Cafe and the fascinating  Garchen Buddhist Institute, about seven miles east on Perkinsville Road (The access road is narrow, windy and steep in places).  Westward lie Kirkland, with its own steakhouse, replete with sawdust on the floor and bowls of unshelled peanuts on the table and Yarnell, with some interesting antique shops, Shrine of St. Joseph and, south of town, Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park, where one may hike five miles or so, to the site of the tragic 2013 fire, which claimed the lives of 19 Wildland Fire Fighters, paying respects along the way. Nichols West Restaurant, in Congress, at the base of Yarnell Hill, is a fine place to replenish oneself, after such an outing.  Finally, fifteen miles northeast, on Highway 89A, is the mountain town of Jerome, with Haunted Hamburger, Mile Hi Grill, Bobby D’s BBQ, Flatiron Coffee House, Jerome State Park and an inn that was once a brothel. The road, both east and west of town, is not for the faint of heart-yet the streets are routinely packed with visitors from Phoenix, Scottsdale and all over.  Get there early.

This is my longest post ever, I know, but Home Base is worth every word.

 

Sacrifice

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May 31, 2019-

I was mildly upbraided for my summer plans, with the person exhorting me to consider “sacrifice”, for the sake of those who might need me to be here.  Sacrifice does mean giving up something, for a larger good.  So, let me look at that.

I live in one of the most desirable communities I’ve ever known.  It would, actually, be the easiest thing in the world, to stay here through the summer, and be at the beck and call of a relative handful of people.  Summers in Prescott are laid back. I could walk down to Courthouse Square or over to one of the colleges that are within walking distance.  I could hang out at Ms. Natural’s or The Raven Cafe, in the morning hours, then get together with friends in the evening, for regular spiritual study or other elevated conversations.

I live, however, for the wider world-as well as for my Home Base.   My journeys are NOT “taking a break from routine”, as was suggested.  Perhaps the person making that statement sees self, and some others up here, as feeling trapped- perhaps.  In truth, none of us here are trapped, in the literal sense.  I use time that is not devoted to work, to connect with other friends and family- not to hang out in luxury accommodations or visit theme parks.

There have been several years in my life, when the wider world had to wait, precisely because responsibilities did occupy my life, 24/7.  Such circumstances could find me again.  In any of these cases, it is a labour of love.  I do not view time spent here as a sacrifice, in any way, shape or form.  Nor do I view time spent on the road as an extravagance.

The Realm of Caring

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January 2, 2019, Prescott-

I sat in comfort, on New Year’s Eve, not knowing that a new friend was toughing it out, on snow shoes, of all things, headed to and from Courthouse Square.  When she finally shared this with me, this evening, I could only say:  “Next time, please call me and never mind the time.”

This is how I was raised and how the people in my circle of friends were for one another.  Even in the worst phases of my autism, I knew better than to ever leave a family member or friend in the lurch.  I wasn’t always so good at it, but I did make the effort.

A few minutes later, there came a post from another friend, elsewhere in the country, about a particularly nettlesome difficulty she was facing, due to other people’s inefficiency and lack of communication. I am furious on her behalf and could only say as much, whilst praying for resolution of the matter.

I have faced the harshest of communication and the most endearing that it can convey, over the past six decades and eight years.  I have also had good friends up and leave, without so much as a “Farewell”.  I will not chase after them, and if they come back, I will be as glad to see them, as if they never left.

Caring, in my view, does not mean patronizing or groveling.  In fact, it’s the opposite.  We are here to raise each other up, period.  Tomorrow, I will join my above-mentioned local friend in a leisurely activity, likely taking some children on an ice-skating venture.  This, from one who tried skating three times, as a child, and fell down each time I got up, should be interesting.

Crowds

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December 3, 2016, Prescott-  I am pinching my pennies, for the next two weeks, as it is both high bill time and a cause for continuing severance of expenditures that no longer make sense.  Satellite TV and landline telephone have gone by the boards, as a result.  Even my essential oils purchases are cut, since I’m the only one buying from me.  There also won’t be many meals out, if I’m dining alone.  It doesn’t take much to make me happy, anyway.

Watching this evening’s lighting of Courthouse Square, including the Christmas tree, was a free delight, though.  The melodic voices of children of all ages added sonic luster to the event.  I was a needle in a humongous crowd- I’d estimate 2,000 people on the lawn, and another 500 or so, walking the streets and patronizing every restaurant, cafe and shop within a half-mile radius of the Square.   I found a small deli, a bit off the beaten track, and contented myself with a cheap, delicious bowl of meatball,kale and white bean soup.

Although I am perfectly happy being alone, I like crowds.  They bring prosperity to my otherwise struggling friends and neighbours in the downtown shops and restaurants. I learn from listening to different people talking, as we all stand and watch the festivities, or while  walking along the sidewalks. Although, they can try people’s   patience, they also bring a chance to think outside the box and to develop networks of co-operation, that otherwise would not have a chance to be established.  One never knows when such networks will be imperative.

Last Sunday, at a gas station just this side of the Colorado River, I happened upon the usual chaotic, end-of-holiday scene.  I took my place in a pump queue, moved up in amazingly short order, and filled the Hyundai’s tank.  As I was preparing to drive out, after paying, another driver backed into the spot in front of me, boxing me in and keeping the person behind me from pulling up to the tank.  The driver behind me got out and started yelling at the miscreant, who, as it happened, did not speak English, but  looked determined not to co-operate, in any event.  Fortunately, there was an attendant on scene, who directed me around the car and carefully past the store front, which was also insanely busy.

Thinking outside the box seems to be the only way, as we move through a most unsettled and chaotic time.

The Road to 65, Mile 359: That Which Brings A Smile

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November 22, 2015, Prescott- This is the last day of Positivity Week, and I have been asked to mention those people and things in my life which make me smile.

So, in no particular order:  My students, and hearing them sing and struggle with the winter song that is associated with the coming holidays.  I know they will sound just fine, with practice, by concert time.

The antics of teens in the neighbourhood Skate Park.  They have mastered some moves that I would look frightful doing, and they do nothing wrong, while there.
“Peanuts”, and other such remnants of the days when childhood was indeed a world apart.  I know the teacher is made to look non-existent, but that’s part of the allure.Mission Inn

Pets, and their silliness.  The love of an animal keeps a lot of people sane, who would otherwise be underwater, emotionally.

The ambiance of places like Prescott, Sedona, Flagstaff, and Tucson, at this time of year.  Even Riverside, CA will command a stop, when I head back here from San Diego, next Sunday. Mission Inn has a legendary holiday display.  Our Courthouse Square, though, sets the mould.

The cards I am getting, in advance of my hexagenarian midpoint.  I am always grateful for those who help me “ring in” my personal New.

Positivity Week is now drawing to a close, but a positive spirit need never do so.

 

The Road to 65, Mile 290: The Soup of Good Fortune

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September 13, 2015, Prescott-   I spent three hours today, in one of the most worthwhile of endeavours.  The Empty Bowls Project is an annual event in Prescott, on Courthouse Square, where so many of our great community events take place.  I was given the job of Gazpacho Ladeler.  Each of us ladelers gave a contributing patron 6 oz. of soup in either a ceramic bowl, which they had purchased, or in a free Styrofoam bowl.  Patrons could come back for second helpings, so one or two of the more popular soups (i.e. lobster bisque) ran out.

Various restaurants in Prescott and nearby Prescott Valley sent a plenitude of soups, most of them hot.  The gazpacho seemed to be the only one that wasn’t.  Even so, there was just about a bowl left over, when we stopped at 2:10, and the chef came to get her materials. My tangible reward for this effort was two 16 oz. cups of soup, one minestrone and one coconut cauliflower curry.  Far greater, of course, is knowing that a substantial amount of money was raised for the benefit of local food banks.

I went back to the house afterward, and finished reading “Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior”, which recounts Dan Millman’s experiences, whilst on Oahu and Molokai.  I sat, totally concentrating on the last fifty pages of the book, and journeyed with him through various dimensions and states of mind.  He did not use hallucinogens, and I can identify with that, since my own mind can make its way to worlds that hardly make sense, in a tangible context.  This afternoon, I only followed his lead.

After my reading was finished, I was given the message to prepare a certain soup of my own.  I first peeled the rind off a butternut squash, after cleaning out its seeds and slicing off the ends.  Then, I did the same with an eggplant and a red pepper, adding lean ground beef and a few figs, with various seasonings.  Turmeric was put in there, for some reason.  I don’t usually add it to a vegetable soup, but there it was.

The scraps and seeds were then buried in the backyard, in an impromptu garden plot.  I’ve never heard of planting so close to Fall, but that was the message I got- and well, trust the journey.  We’ll see what transpires.

I will regard the resulting concoction as a soup of good fortune- celebrating what appear to be doors opening for me, even as a door of friendship, of two years’ duration, seems to be closing.  Everything happens in its time.