Crunch Golden Pride Restaurant

    Golden Pride in Albuquerque sells fried chicken, Bar- B- Que, burritos, red and green enchiladas, and, of course, a world famous cinnamon roll drowning on a plate in butter and icing. This black vehicle is parked in front of the East Central Route 66 location and comes equipped with literature, philosophy, and Biblical principles.  On the hood, the trunk, door panels, and bumpers is wisdom from the past. Good ideas are good regardless of the century and continent they were penned. Mark Twain has his own special way with words and ideas. The Bible is clear on its central points – Men are Sinners, Mankind has fallen, Temptation is Satan’s favorite game, Redemption is possible, Death can be conquered, Jesus is the Savior. Inside Golden Pride, I try to pinpoint the owner of this moving book but it could be most anyone in the restaurant. New Mexico is odd that way. You can have a millionaire and a bum sitting at the same table and you can’t tell, from outward appearances, which one has the money. Diving into my cinnamon roll, it is certain that Mark Twain, as much as the Holy Bible, comes up with ideas I wish I had thought of. Thinking about the kind of person who would write on a car makes my lunch go better than normal. This cinnamon roll has just the right amount of butter and icing, ordering two would just not be right, so I concentrate on the poetry of ideas.. One thing I wouldn’t write on my car, for sure, is my phone number. Anonymity has great advantages.  

Car Auction Casa Esperanza

    Casa Esperanza is a non profit that provides temporary housing to families whose members are undergoing medical treatment in Albuquerque. As a part of fundraising they run a car auction of donated vehicles. On Friday, the first of each month, you look at rolling stock, start engines, check doors and windows, look for oil leaks and body damage, check fluids. On Saturday you register, get a bidders number, and follow the auctioneer down a slippery slippery slope. This Saturday there are fifty bidders and sightseers who move from one car to another as the auction unfolds. Some cars go too cheap, some too expensive. Some of these clunkers have been parked in garages as elderly drivers used them only to go to church. Some are to the point that fixing costs more than keeping. Some have been in wrecks. Some have salvage titles. There are stories behind these vehicles as flamboyant as the stories behind their owners. The auction is over by noon and successful buyers take their papers to the office, pay fees, and make a white knuckle drive home. Crazy Ron buys a Cadillac Deville that drives like a charm till it gets a mile from his house. The engine light comes on and the car shuts down from overheating. ” It drives great, ” he tells me at the curb in front of his house the next day. Auctions are a place where buyers bid against buyers. It is a spectacle, but buyer beware. Casa Esperanza doesn’t guarantee vehicles. They move them out.  

Fourth of July Celebration at Richard and Maria's

    The fourth of July is the official birthday of the United States. The American fight for Independence was hatched in Boston pubs and undertaken by a cadre of locals. Over taxed and under represented was the big beef and secretive plotting led to a Declaration of Independence from merry old England who was licking wounds from European wars and needed raw materials and taxes from America to pay for debts incurred. There was fighting, men died, a Constitution was written, leaders got elected. These days the metaphor for America is an aging Uncle Sam who sports a long white beard, wears clothes made out of a flag , has a top hat of red, white, and blue, a firm grip on your American credit card, and a hand in the affairs of other countries all over the world. This is an older group present tonight, a group with a collective history. This wild bunch has seen the Civil Rights movement, Kennedy assassination, Moon Walk, World War 2, Vietnam, Watts, Desert Storm, 2008 Financial Collapse, Government Shutdowns, the fall of Russia, Castro, Cell phones , Computers, Multiple Recessions,  Gay Marriage, Food Stamps, Medicaid, TARP,  TSA , Sex changes, Drones, Watergate, LSD, Disneyland. Birthdays are good, once a year.  They give a chance to pause, look back, look ahead.   What America says it is, and what it is, is a growing enigma. It makes moments of peace, like this, more poignant.  

Albuquerque Biopark Frolicking with the fish

    The Albuquerque Bio park is an oasis of water in the desert. There is an aquarium, rose gardens, a gift shop and museum, a restaurant, and a little train that blows its whistle as it takes kids on a sedate ride through the grounds. The Park has been here over thirty years and is a result of private and public money pooled. In the aquarium, Alma and I are below ground level, separated from fish by large glass panels that are the edge of their world and the beginning of ours.  In one tank, jelly fish float, almost transparent aliens with internal power plants lit up like Christmas ornaments. Taking pictures for her Facebook pages, Alma returns to Marinduque in December. With family, a coconut farm, and the beginnings of a pig farm, she has reasons to be there. We humans have roots that keep us grounded. Jellyfish hold to nothing. Recently an uncle who raised her and her brothers and sisters, after they were abandoned, passed. Working in Chicago, all she could do was wire money back to the Philippines and say a prayer for the man who took her in when no one else wanted her. To have a hard life and still be enchanted speaks volumes about the human spirit.  

Scott’s Compact Car New Wheels

    Cars go until they don’t go. They are traded when they start to cost more than they are worth. My Prius, an experiment in high tech, is gone. When electronic systems start to malfunction you have to step back and decide how much you like the idea of forty five miles per gallon in town.  Adding the cost of maintenance and repairs, it  makes sense to step down to an old fashioned gas engine that gets thirty miles a gallon but can be repaired and maintained by most mechanics with wrenches and good diagnostic instruments. My Yaris has a fancy name but it is just an inexpensive compact car. Loosely named after a Greek Goddess of grace, Charis, this little transportation car is more down to Earth than it’s name implies. With its modest price, it is never going to be mistaken for luxury. A four banger with automatic transmission, it has good styling, a big trunk, a cracked windshield that is part of an” as is ” sale, four doors and a mediocre sound system. Our car relationships can be tenuous. Not marrying or sleeping with our cars gives them a very short shelf life. People tolerate performance issues with spouses much longer than their vehicles. Me and my Yaris are doing okay thus far. If cars could trade us in I would really start to worry.  
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