Our House, Tonight

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August 23, 2019-

It was Shayna’s house, tonight,

filling the air with empowerment,

and hope, for women of all ages.

Bringing the fire of the Russian steppes,

by way of Long Beach,

she made the heart of Prescott soar.

It was Dea’s house, tonight,

filling the room with dance,

and joy, to everyone who came and went.

Bringing the love of the ages,

through the grace of her aunts,

she made the spirits of

at least five Levels

of the Universe,

shine with delight.

It was my house, tonight,

sipping a cold brew coffee,

sitting  at a high-top table,

keeping a quiet place,

for one and all

to stand nearby,

to dance in bliss,

to collect thoughts,

to feel a warm safety.

The Raven was our house, tonight.

 

 

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.

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch…

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May 26, 2018, Prescott-

There’s a whole lot to see and do here in Home Base.  Next weekend, for example, a fundraiser for a twelve-year-old boy who was struck by a car, whilst crossing the street to go to a library, will be held, June 3, 1-5 pm, at Prescott Valley’s Anytime Fitness, 6715 E. 2nd St., Suite A.

I want to give  a shout-out also, to the unique and fine places that make my life here so blessed:  Ms. Natural’s, 318 West Gurley Street, is Prescott’s newest organic restaurant, open every day except Wednesday. Claudia offers fine coffees, smoothies and both vegetarian and cold cut sandwiches.  Right down the street is Shannon’s Deli, with a “hot dogs” sign on the door.  Shannon’s has lots more than hot dogs- her soups and cheesecake are the signature fare.  Right across from the Courthouse are Frozen Frannie’s, with delectable frozen yogurt, ice cream and a variety of baked items, as well as coffees. Next door is Lone Spur, one of several local establishments offering hearty, spill-over-the-plate breakfasts.

Go down Cortez, and you’ll find Chi’s, with what I regard as the best Chinese food in town.  At Cortez and Willis is Raven Cafe, my favourite place to go for great music and more organic meals.  They have a wide selection of imbiber’s delights, as well. Catty-corner, across Cortez and Willis, is Peregrine Books, Prescott’s largest bookstore, and another venture by the family who own the Raven. Next door to Peregrine is Two Mamas, one of eight Mom and Pop pizzerias in town.  T.M. has several signature pizzas, my personal fave being the Pot Roast and Gorgonzola variety.

Now,go back up Cortez, cross the street, and you’ll find Dancing Skeleton, with its large selection of condiments and unique craft items.  Further up are Bill’s Pizza, a good thin-crust pizzeria, and the favourite of many locals; Mob Burger, with excellent burgers and welcoming to couples and groups, but not those dining alone; Lifeways, a spiritual-themed bookstore, with a small espresso counter in the back.

The Courthouse lawn is a key gathering spot, especially on Tuesday and Thursday evenings during the summer, with live music and dancing.  Signs around the outside of the Courthouse detail weekend festivals, of which the largest summer event is Prescott’s Rodeo, one of the country’s oldest, held just before, and during. July 4.

On the west side of the Courthouse is Montezuma Street, also called Whiskey Row.  There are plenty of bars there, for those so inclined.  Hotel St. Michaels is one of two large Victorian hotels in town, and has a variety of shops on its ground floor, including a lovely bistro.  South of Whiskey Row, there are more bars and restaurants, including Far From Folsom, a Johnny Cash-themed establishment, with many of the same musicians appearing, as in the Raven.  Bill’s Grill, owned by the same family as Bill’s Pizza, is a popular place for a wide variety of comfort foods.

Going back to Goodwin Street, and heading west, one finds El Gato Azul, a tapas restaurant and also one of Prescott’s most popular gathering spots, of a weekday evening.  Park Avenue Deli, inside a liquor store, offers surprisingly good comfort cuisine, though here, too, groups are preferred over single customers.  Ditto for Rosa’s Pizzeria, an excellent place for Italian fare, and west of Ms. Natural’s, on Gurley.  Rosa’s is always packed with visitors, so call ahead for your table.

Heading out of town, eastward, check out Zeke’s Eatin’ Place, akin to Lone Spur, for belly-bustin’ breakfasts and lunches, in Frontier Village, on the Prescott- Yavapai Indian Nation.  Planet Fitness is also there, for an after-meal workout (monthly memberships, from $10.)  Picture Show Cinema, up the hill, would round out a Frontier Village excursion.

Finally, in Prescott Valley, north and east of Home Base, find Rafter Eleven, a wine and condiments shop, owned by one of the area’s oldest families.  It is at 2985 Centre Court, left on Glassford Hill Rd, then right on Centre Court.  Gabby’s Grill, a bit north of Rafter, is my favourite dining spot in downtown Prescott Valley.

That’s it, in a Brazil nut-shell.  Hope you can find your way here, some day or another.

Pulse

11

June 12, 2016, Prescott-  My week was largely occupied with helping to man a shelter, for some 37 people who were evacuated from two communities, Yarnell and Peeples Valley, once again threatened by fire.  This time, no one died.  This time, there was minimal property damage.  This time, the fire was taken seriously, from the get-go.

The shelter closed this morning.  I helped with the breakdown, helped inventory the necessities.  Then, I went to the Raven Cafe, had brunch and came home.  My middle brother, in the course of a phone conversation, told me of Orlando.  He told me there were 50 dead.  He told me there were 50 other people, whose lives were in the balance.  He told me of the worst terrorist act on U.S. soil, since 9/11/2001.

Orlando/Beirut:  Many dead, in the former; many terrified, in the latter.  Two fine cities, united by atrocity.  The list of affected cities and towns grows.  The list of innocent victims multiplies. The hate continues.

Three years ago, when I was in yet another of the fogs that come with grief, and was making some terrible choices, one person came to my aid. One person called me and said, directly and convincingly, “This needs to stop.  You are acting crazy and it’s not going to end well.”  That person reset my mental clock.  That person, as fine a friend as I’ve ever known, is a member of the LGBT community.  That person and his fellows deserve all the respect and human dignity that those of us who are heterosexual, cissexual, or any other designation, can possibly muster.

Pulse is now a place of mourning.  Orlando is now a city dealing with two shocks: One small in scale; the other, the worst firearms attack in American history, outside of war.  Both shatter the convoluted logic that, if only good people had firearms, the bad would be at a disadvantage.  Yes, quick, decisive action by police officers did prevent more lives from being lost, in both incidents.  Yet, both shooters reportedly acquired their weapons legally.

So, our choice is this: 1. Honour the souls who have gone on, and not make excuses, as we have done- every single time before, including after 9/11 (“That Frenchman said the U.S. Government did it.”) and after Newtown (“Don’t you know those kids are in hiding.  Nobody really died, except Lanza.”)

2.  Stay in the mindset of ignorance, and denial, and watch, “helplessly”, as the carnage goes on, and gets worse, and comes to a theater near you.

I am listening, thinking, waiting- and mourning.  I will not stand idly by, if a demon rages  in my view.

My Favourites List: Ten Prescott Restaurants

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October 8, 2014, Prescott- My next few posts will focus on the places, and people, who help make this life sweet.  Living alone, I get out and walk around Prescott just about every day.  Here are my ten favourite places in town, to stop in for lunch or dinner, or an occasional breakfast.

10.  Scout’s-  This is a novel and refreshingly-themed place to get a tasty sub for lunch.  Each item is named for a particular National Park, and it’s all made from scratch.  Soups are good here, also.  I stop here when getting my car serviced nearby, or when going for a haircut at Fantastic Sam’s.

9.  Rosa’s- Arguably the best Italian restaurant, in a town filled with good pizza and pasta.  I usually grab a seat at one of the long counters.  It’s always homey, and sometimes raucous.  The food never disappoints.

8. Sue Ann’s Apple Pan– I’ve only been here a few times, being a “breakfast at home” kind of guy.  Sue Ann’s lunch items, though, are also made fresh.  Here, too, I sit at the counter, feeling more at home that way.

7.  Lone Spur- Being right downtown, this is one of two places to really load up on food, if the day requires a “one-meal” schedule.  It’s all great stuff, and runs the gamut from heart-healthy fruits and grains to local cultural icons like chorizo, or biscuits and gravy.

6.  Zeke’s Eatin’ Place-  This used to be the toast, and a lot of other stuff, of Prescott Valley.  Now, Zeke’s is an anchor for the resurgent Frontier Village, on the Prescott Yavapai Indian Reservation, just east of town.  Like Lone Spur, Zeke’s is an old-fashioned, pack-it-in, establishment.  The food is well-prepared and hearty, and one can easily take home enough for two more meals.,

5.  Wildflower Bakery- This is the only chain establishment on my list, and it’s always crowded, but the counter staff and servers are as friendly as if they were working for Mom and Pop.  It’s all healthy here, even the pastries. The fireplace adds to a relaxing ambiance.  Wildflower is on the east side of Prescott’s Gateway Mall, three miles east of downtown.

4.  Shannon’s-  Here’s another small, downtown establishment, with freshly made sandwiches, and the best soups in town. Shannon and Murphy specialize in cheesecakes, which come as a treat, every now and then- and make great gifts.

3.  Soldi’s-  Three spunky young ladies, work out of a stationary food cart, in a garden setting.  The kids, helped by their mother, put on a fabulous lunch, with modest portions.  Friday nights feature custom hors d’oeuvres, to which one may bring one’s own beverage.  Soldi’s is bound for nothing but success.

2.  Park Avenue Deli-  An unassuming strip mall place, on the southwest corner of downtown, and on the front end of a liquor store, of all places, Park Avenue is run by two mellow young folks- Jessica and Jon.  The place is geared towards parties of three or more, but I’ve always been accommodated when dining alone.  It’s never dull, with high-powered business people, groups of guys or ladies who seem to be friends of one of the staff, and random seniors coming in from the pharmacy across the way.  I often learn more about what’s going on in town here than I do from Prescott’s Facebook page.  The food is excellent and well-portioned.

1. Raven Cafe-  Everything here is organic, both food and beverages.  It’s another lively spot, and seems to be full with regulars, no matter what time of day or evening I happen by.  Raven is also geared towards groups, but Lone Wolves are welcomed.  Staff is a bit phlegmatic towards non-drinkers, but the food is fabulous and the rest of the ambiance is refreshing.

At most of these places, the staff would recognize me as the quiet, unassuming soul who takes a place at the counter, or at a small table, orders pleasantly but quickly, eats relatively quickly and takes his leave without fanfare.  Nonetheless, I appreciate everything they do to make our lives here more pleasant and well-nourished.