Support and Relief

2

April 20, 2022- I stopped in at a small local pizzeria, just before a Baha’i meeting, this evening. There was a lone server, a young woman, who seemed flustered by the eatery’s computer system. While she was gracious and seemed eager to focus on the considerable number of patrons who were gathering, as dinner hour progressed, the computer and the paperwork just seemed to be more of a hindrance than anything else.

There were at least five men in the back, who no doubt had their own specific duties, but only one came up front to help her with the system. The front was backed up, and despite her game face, I sensed she was struggling.

I mention this, because it is the second time this week that I have been in a restaurant, where it seemed like men were standing around, having conversation, while a lone woman was holding down the fort in the front. Maybe times have changed, but I recall working in establishments in the 1970s and ’80s, where we all were a team and pitched in when one member was having a rough time.

Later, at another gathering, I was asked to try and find some time to help out with another person’s project, over the next few months. This will happen, yet I want to see more reaching out-so that more people are drawn in to the effort-not just the same few of us, who are asked over and over again, to just find more time. That will be as much the crux of my efforts in this matter, as direct assistance itself.

This brings up the current wildfire situation in northern and central Arizona. The grasslands and scrub forest, east of Flagstaff, and the pine-clad mountains, southeast of Prescott, are each enduring conflagrations of unknown origin. Shelters are established, and I will be helping out with the one close to Home Base, both weekend nights and on Monday, if needed. Again, a small cadre of us holding the fort, so that the rest of the community may go about their business. In fairness, this has been the case with others, when I have been committed elsewhere.

Somehow, though, I would love to see more people take up the mantle of support and relief.

The Best and the Still-Potentially Good

2

April 10, 2022- It helps me to consolidate my learnings from any observational journey, by looking at what was best and what could have been better. It never helps, really, to disparage a given place or person. We are all works in progress.

So, looking at the places of accommodation in which I stayed, over the three weeks just past, here are some impressions:

America’s Best Value Inn, Brunswick, GA- Clean and well-furnished. It was quiet, a bit out of town, but not too far out of the way. Good WiFi.

America’s Best Value Inn, West Melbourne, FL- Clean, but not well-furnished, aside from the comfortable bed, which was also the seat. It was fairly lively, being Spring Break and all, but no one carried on much, after 11 p.m. Good WiFi.

Vero Inn, Vero Beach, FL- Very clean and well-furnished. It is a small motel, yet the owners are very proud of their enterprise and treat guests like family. Great Wi Fi.

Bikini Hostel and Cafe, Miami Beach- Well-tended rooms, excessive surcharges on parking, minimal breakfasts and suppers, reasonable locker fee. The evening manager is engaging and attentive, especially to the needs of young people traveling alone. The rest of the male staff are rather aloof. The ladies, mostly housekeepers, are kind and relaxed, while doing their jobs well. This place could use an attitude adjustment, on the part of upper management and security. WiFi is great, though.

Conty’s Motel, Naples, FL- Large room, good furnishings and clean, though pricey for a place with stand-up shower. Owner is stoic, but attentive. WiFi is fairly good.

Plaza Travel Inn, Clewiston, FL- Very attentive owner-manager greeted me and apologized for having to change out his door bell. Good-sized room, good furnishings and clean. The co-owner even hoses down the parking lot, each evening. WiFi was good.

Gram’s Place Hostel, Tampa- One of the three best places I stayed this time around. Owner-manager is very grateful for visitors, and the place is usually packed. Lots of quirky memorabilia-even a tree Some areas needed work-one sink had no running water, but there was a working sink nearby. Kitchen could use some cereal bowls. (I’ll have to remember to donate some, if that is still the case next time.) Rooms were clean. Patio is spacious and welcoming. Great WiFi.

Motel 6, Spring Hill, FL- I stayed here two nights. Clean, with fairly good furniture. Quite a rambunctious group of guests, but no one bothered me. Desk clerk was engaging and very attentive. Good WiFi.

Motel 6, Americus, GA- I stayed here two nights, as well. Single woman runs the place, and was gentle, but firm, with panhandling drifter who hung around and bothered single female guests. There is a nice laundry room for guests to use. Room was clean and had good furnishings. Wi Fi was good.

Heart of Dixie Motel, Dadeville, AL- This place needs work. The owner did not realize that towels and washcloths were not available. Furnishings are passable. The bathroom was fairly clean. The sleeping room was a bit more so. WiFi was fair.

Sonesta Select, Atlanta- Marvelous, four-star resort hotel, and one of the three best places on this trip-as much because of the regal, but attentive, front desk staff, as because of the accoutrements. Furnishings were excellent and room was spotless. WiFi was gr

The Quisby, New Orleans- The third great place on this journey, and a truly Big Easy hostel, I felt that the management had their act together, keeping a potentially unruly bunch in good order. Clean and well-kept rooms, with comfortable bunks and very nice bathrooms. WiFi is excellent and the food is simple but excellent.

Alamo Inn, San Antonio- I got the last available room here, at nearly the last minute. Alamo would be #4 on my list of “bests”. Rick, the owner, is very accommodating and will even call an Uber for guests needing transport to downtown. The rooms are large, clean and have great furnishings. WiFi is great.

Accommodations being most important, eateries are a close second. The best were: Sunrise Diner, Brunswick; Fourth Street Deli, Fernandina Beach, FL; Tanuki, Miami Beach; Brian’s Place, Hernando Beach, FL; Cowboys Fire Pit BBQ, Lake Park, GA; Farm Burger, Atlanta; Cooks and Soldiers, Atlanta, Thousand Hills Coffee House, Atlanta and Oskar’s Cafe, Dadeville. For sentimental reasons, I add Zaxby’s, Dublin, GA and Osceola Tiger, Miccosuki Reservation, because the kids are caring and attentive.

The most memorable places visited were Andersonville National Historic Site; American Beach, Amelia Island, FL; Kennedy Space Complex Visitors Center, Merritt Island, FL; Downtown Key West; Smathers Beach and Bahia Honda, Lower Keys; South Beach, Miami Beach; Big Cypress National Preserve; Naples Botanical Garden, Naples, FL; Downtown Tampa; St. Petersburg Waterfront; Koinonia Farm, Americus; Tuskegee Airmen National Monument, Tuskegee, AL.

So those are my takes on things Southeast, at least for now.

Hoarding

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September 4, 2021- During my weekly visit with some restaurateur friends, the husband told me that there is a rising problem of hoarding, within the food service industry. He did not specify whether the excessive purchases are being done by chains or by insecure independent restaurant owners. He did, however, make it clear that their restaurant was buying what they need, in order to provide fresh and delicious meals for the week.

I was always taught to buy only what I need, as well, as the open market is intended to provide for all, at a fair price. Hoarding, at any point in the supply chain, causes scarcity of goods, and thus, skyrocketing prices. In many countries, this has led to commodity-based riots. Here in the U.S., it is helping to contribute to discontent-as not only discretionary meals, but staples, are sure to be affected, before long-if the hoarding behaviour is not more widely discerned and called out.

There are other things that people hoard: Attention, money, and power. I could go on for a long time on any one of those, but suffice it to say that the intangibles, when hogged by a few, will also contribute to widespread social malaise. No one likes to be pestered or bullied, so the backlash is liable to be swifter than the perpetrators think. In my case, pests and bullies just get blocked and deleted. There are too many genuinely loving people in my world, who give and receive the affection and attention each of us deserves. I am sure that most other rational and genuinely caring people will do the same, for their own well-being.

Hoarders, sooner or later, face the scarcity they so fear.

When Darkness Descends

4

May 31, 2020

I will say this, today was a balanced day, in terms of how I interacted with others. Breakfast was served by a nice young lady, and was well-prepared and delicious. I was taken aback, though, by the surliness of her boss-who took exception to the t-shirt I was wearing. Not sure whether the death stare was due to it being a t-shirt,or to the message it stated: “No Room in My Heart for Prejudice”. There is also the matter of my being a single man, sitting at a table meant for four, but I displaced no one. (Prescott restaurants, as I’ve mentioned before, are not always welcoming to parties of one.)

I went back to the house, and had a well-attended online devotional, though a couple of the participants got a bit testy, when I described my earlier experience. I am seen by some around here as being a bit too pushy, when it comes to talking about my beliefs. That is something I can abide, as I rarely even broach those beliefs, unless I sense a receptive audience.

I had good conversations with the others, though, thus balancing out the morning. In the afternoon, a very good friend and I discussed a couple of enterprises that she is considering. This is a most proactive response to the harrowing events that have hit our country, thus far this year.

The day came to a pleasant end, at least for me, with a two-hour instructional on bridging cultural differences. Lord knows, this applies as much to life within the United States, as it does further afield.

May has been a rough row to hoe, but we’re getting….somewhere.

Opening Back Up

6

May 6. 2020-

I asked my friend, who owns a small natural foods cafe, how she was going to go about re-opening her dine-in area, after the go-ahead bell is rung, next Monday.  She will go with patio service only, for the time-being-as the ambiance of the establishment is “tarry awhile” and indoor tarrying would bother her sensibilities.

There will be several “return to normal” efforts, over the next few weeks.  I am likely to get a haircut, next Monday.  My monthly check-up at the chiropractor went on today, as scheduled.  Turning right, into his parking lot, off the main artery between Prescott and Prescott Valley earned me a tirade from the guy behind me, who doesn’t like the idea that there are turn-offs, along his route home.  Some things aren’t going to change, COVID or not.  In a couple of weeks, I will head down to Phoenix, for my four-month dental check-up and cleaning.

Several Zoom calls will last the rest of the month. June will bring a different set of expectations, but we’ll cross that bridge, when we get there.  The gradual lifting of the curtain will be enough and may feel like a century has passed, by the time Memorial Day weekend arrives.  I want to see people remain healthy, to the extent possible.  God knows, we’ve already lost enough people, these past three months.

I have felt closer to the night sky, during this period of upside-down, whilst still getting up at 6 a.m., as the joy of morning is still very much in place.  That short mid-day cat nap makes all the difference.

The Hand Up

4

May 4, 2020, Flagstaff-

Two vehicles, full of necessaries, pulled into the parking lot of Little America Resort Hotel, in the center of this sprawling forested city.  The drivers, yours truly and a longtime friend, arrived two hours ahead of the designated time for meeting another friend, a member of the Navajo Nation, who was to take the cargo the rest of the way.  We each had our lunch of choice and stretched out, in our respective vehicles, to while the time away until then- he, playing a video game and I, taking a nice long nap.

This was my first time out of Navajo County, since March 13, and my first time out of the Prescott area, since March 22.  Of course, everything is as I remembered it-in terms of greenery, the layout of cities and towns.  Everything is also changed, and as in Prescott, meals are served to go and the picnic table has replaced the patio.  I heard, a few minutes ago, that there is a chance restaurants will open for Mothers Day.  That would mean rush orders and frantic cleaning, as well as convincing workers to come back-and give up their unemployment.  So, it would have to be a genuine restart-not a game of fits and starts.

Anyhow, right at 2 p.m., our Dineh friend and his cohort arrived, and we got all the items transferred, in short order.  The supplies will make many people happy and re-assured. There may be other such deliveries.  God knows I have the time to assist-clear to next Spring.  For now, though, it’s nice to be alive, and useful.  I will stop by and purchase a cold brew coffee from a young friend who owns a shop in Sedona, and then head on back to Home Base.

Warm, Cold and Somewhere In-between

4

August 11, 2019-

I have been back in Prescott, just shy of a month, and am finding that, even with a dearth of day-to-day work assignments, life remains very full.  Have been catching up with long-time friends and have been contacted by an interesting healer, who will help augment what I’m already doing for myself.

Looking back on the two-part journey just past, I reflect that the reactions to my presence, at different stops along the way, fell into three categories:  Warm, cold and somewhere in-between.  I felt no shortage of love for anyone, mind you.  The reception, though, depended largely on where the people were, in their own emotional and psychological spaces.

There were warm environments: A friend’s house, at Coal Mine, AZ;  Mother Road Hostel (Albuquerque);  my friends’ pondside house (Crossville, TN)*;  Not-So-Hostel (Charleston); Glick’s Greenhouse (Oley, PA)*; several friends’ and family homes in Saugus and elsewhere in Massachsusetts*; a Baha’i gathering in Pittsburgh;  two friends’ homes in Indiana*; an Airbnb home and the Baha’i House of Worship (Wilmette)*; Roy-el Motel (Wapello, IA); Honeycomb Hostel (Kansas City); Mesa Verde Motel (Mancos, CO).

There were mixed receptions at Pilgrim House (Memphis)* and Wrigley Hostel (Chicago), again, depending on where the individuals were in their own lives.  The chilliness was, thankfully, limited to a few people along the way- an angry man on the road between Ganado and Chinle, AZ; a disgruntled hosteler in Charleston and the security staff at West Point.

Restaurant-wise, I was treated like family, in Canyon de Chelly Restaurant;  Villa di Capo (Albuquerque);  Smokey Joe’s (Amarillo); Mesquite Canyon Steak House (Shamrock, TX); Cupcakes & Cravings (Rolla, MO*); T’aiChi Noodle House (Chattanooga); Best Bagels in Town (Knoxville); Huckleberry’s (Tryon, NC);  Motor Supply Bistro (Columbia, SC); New Moon Cafe (Aiken, SC)*; Hilton Head Diner; East Bay Deli(Charleston); Don Beto’s (Raleigh);  D’s Diner (Wilkes-Barre)*; One Family Deli (Newburgh); Egremont Market (Egremont, MA); The Fresh Side (Amherst, MA); Friendly Ice Cream (Southington, CT); Padamina’s BBQ, Buffet & Bakery (Danbury); Bedford Diner (Bedford, PA)*; Fricker’s (Richmond,IN); Family Square (Bolingbrook, IL); Q39 Barbecue (Kansas City); Copeland Cafe (Copeland, KS); Del’s Diner (Fort Garland, CO)*;  The Farm Bistro (Cortez) and Munds Park Resort Cafe (Munds Park, AZ)*.                                                                                         * Return visits

I mention all these, so that people recognize how important ambiance is, to a traveling soul.  There are some RIP’s, from my previous trips, and I’ll miss Chez Duval (Granada, CO) and Artful Dodger Cafe (Harrisonburg, VA), in particular.  While I’m at it, Feast Bistro, in Ojai, CA, though in the opposite direction, is on that list of RIP’s.  Establishments come and go, I know- yet it is always the people who work in them and other patrons, who remain in my heart.

 

Home Base

7

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.

 

Constant Solace

5

March 28, 2017, Prescott Valley- This afternoon, whilst shuttling between meetings.   I listened to a discussion, on NPR, about emotional support animals.  It set me to thinking about the matters: Of people who feel invisible and untended; of false equivalency between those who are truly disabled, those who are mildly inconvenienced, and how does one accurately distinguish between the two; of those who are simply gaming the system.

When I was a child, there were Seeing Eye Dogs and police dogs, with specific missions, who were not to be bothered, in the course of their duties.  In the late 1970’s, came Hearing Dogs, which was almost a no-brainer.  After the closing of mental hospitals, and with the onset of more research on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Therapy Dogs and Equestrian Therapy started to become commonplace, especially in the American West.  These animals all still serve a wide variety of people in pain.

In the 1990’s, and continuing through the present time, we have seen a more personalized extension of the therapy animal:  The Emotional Support Animal (ESA).  Dogs, cats, budgerigars, pythons, lizards, ferrets, hamsters, even llamas and burros, have been presented, in one or more social situations and public spaces, as essential companions to humans.

For those making these new demands upon the rest of society, the traditional concept of pets has gone out the window.  I know many who treasure their various pets, sometimes as members of the family.  Most of my pet-owning friends keep their furry friends at home, or make humane arrangements for them, when out of town.  To the people who regard their animals as essential to their own well-being, however, the idea of being away from them, even for a night on the town, becomes nerve-wracking, traumatic, and completely unacceptable.

I can understand a lot of this.  Other than the unconditional love of a significant other, there are few things more appealing than the comfort of one’s favourite animal, especially after a stressful day.  A warm dog or cat is also a comfort for many who live, and sleep, alone.

Enter the Golden Rule.  I am just posing these questions- without judgment:

Are the feelings of one’s fellow diners, and of eatery staffs, being considered, when one brings an ESA into a restaurant or outdoor cafe?

Is it safe, or even comfortable, to bring a stock animal onto a train?  What about the comfort of the animal?

Can the likes of  a dog, cat, gerbil or python really be suitable for riding in the coach of an airplane?  What about the animal’s safety, in the event its human needs to evacuate said aircraft?

What about the management of a conflict between, say, a dog and cat, or two animals in heat?

These are all, to my mind, fair questions.  I will read any reasonable, well- considered responses with a great deal of interest.