Gophers, Minestrone and Ubiquitous Welcomes

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March 23, 2021- I set out this morning, for what I thought would be a day of working in a Literacy Project. Arriving at the school, I was informed that I was to work with Eighth Grade Science students, and this was not a suggestion. The details are complex, but the situation is not the fault of the teenagers, so I put as much effort into helping them understand DNA and RNA, as my scientifically illiterate self could muster. It is not as hard as it is sometimes presented. The result was that the kids were hoping I would stay for the rest of the semester. That won’t happen, because of other commitments-but I know efforts are being made to secure the instructional program.

Another warm welcome, this time at a local soup, salad and sandwich establishment, at which I am a weekly visitor, featured both piping hot Minestrone and fresh-baked bread, along with a cheerful server, who never stopped working- bringing food, helping bag to-go orders, sweeping the floor or clearing tables. I always feel like my presence matters there, which is not always the case for a single older man. Actually, it seems as if my presence is wanted in more and more places, both in-person and online. I’ll take this state of affairs, and the rain-checks that come with it, any day of the week, over the occasional surliness and side-eyes that had started to pop up, as winter wore on.

This evening, I joined an online discussion on gardening, which featured, among other things, gopher extermination. Gophers are a competitor for any fruits, grains and vegetables grown in the Mountain Southwest. The veteran farmer who offered the program was quite matter-of-fact about the necessity of being not nice, in dealing with these competitors. There is, other than coexistence, which runs the risk of both dietary and financial ruin, no gentle way to deal with gophers, moles, prairie dogs-or javelinas, for that matter. He went through tunnel traps, toxic deterrents and electric fencing. I will go with construction cloth, below the planting area, and see how that works-though my neighbours had no issue with gophers last season.

Every day, as is said in the Sheryl Crow song, is a winding road.

Seared into Community

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January 8, 2019-

The local Sears may well be closing soon, along with most others of that company’s sites.  That fact has nothing to do with the title of this post, though.

Prescott has taught me how to be fully part of a community-actually a lesson that Saugus, and later, the Hopi Nation, tried to teach me, years ago, with varying degrees of success.  I guess that now, in my advanced middle age, and with a few knockabouts under my belt, people are more easily understood by me, and vice versa.

There is a move afoot for several of us to go to a National Park Service property (to be determined), and engage in a clean-up, this weekend.  This is just the latest of examples of why this community has a commitment from my heart to stay and work for the next 2-2.5 years, before family, and the curiosity about the wider world, take primacy in my life, once again.  My Faith community, the Red Cross, a local school gardens group, various individual friends-and my co-workers at Prescott High School have kept me well-occupied and quite happily so, especially these past two academic years.

This evening, I went to a fundraiser for our school’s Future Business Leaders of America.  Wildflower Bakery, a regional chain, has a new restaurant, within the shopping mall where it has been a fixture for several years.  It is visible from the road, and draws a fair crowd.  FBLA thus decided to hold its event here.  I support as many of these “club dinners” as I can, just out of love. Teens, in my view, deserve all the support they can get, in finding their way to a solid and sustainable future.
I guess this is the impetus to having all these other elements of community take root in my heart.

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.