Heckle and Jeckle Talking over the watercooler

  These two questionable birds remind me of cartoon characters us kids watched on black and white television in the 1950’s, most often perched on a tree limb talking about crazy humans. They were, as they appear here, angular, opinionated, and had New York voices that were like a piece of coarse sandpaper rubbed over my cheek, and not gently. Perched on a tiny end table in front of the Madrid, New Mexico Mine Shaft Museum, they, for the moment, aren’t gossiping loud enough that I can hear who they are roasting. The Madrid mining museum is full of old rusted mining implements piled into one large open room, under a tin roof. Through an open doorway, I see the old rust colored machines that kept town and mines operating in the 1800’s when lots of young men and painted women came out west to make their fortunes. The docent of the museum this morning, a gray haired volunteer woman standing by a manual cash register, talks in a mellifluous voice and explains, to an equally old couple, listening attentively, how the town prospered in its heyday. I can hear Heckle and Jeckle cackling outside over a really nasty human joke. For some unfathomable reason, I want to buy them and the fountain and set them all on a little table on my back porch in Albuquerque. These two could really tell me, every day, funny, but true, stories about mining in Madrid, Mew Mexico, before and after the hippies came. Watching humans all day is as funny as it gets.  

Mineshaft Tavern Local Watering Hole

    State Road 14 takes you to Madrid,New Mexico, and to Cerrillos,New Mexico, if you stay on it. All the way to Madrid we are passed by overweight motorcycle riders wearing pony tails and Bandito Leather jackets. Madrid is an old New Mexico mining town that busted a long time ago and left old mining shacks that were snapped up by 1960’s alternative lifestyle people. Today, most of these shacks have become watering holes, eateries, jewelry shops, art galleries, antique stores, botiques for unusual clothes, cramped homes for  bearded and balding hippies who have outlived their generation. At eleven thirty in the morning, the Mineshaft Tavern, a local institution, is still not open and bikers stand outside with their women and take pictures on their cell phones to post on Facebook. After a long ride to Madrid, from Albuquerque, it makes a nice afternoon to have a few beers and tell biker stories before going home. On Monday, most of them will be wearing suits at a desk in City Hall or designing weapons to make a more peaceful world at Sandia Labs. The mural painted on a wall outside the tavern sums the town up. There are two dogs for each resident, horses and cowboys are allowed, and no one has to dress up or put on airs. If I were a dog, I would want to live here too where there are no leashes, plenty of shade, free snacks from tourists and not a lot of traffic.  

Cerrillos, New Mexico Road Trip

    New Mexico, before statehood, was an American territory wrested from Mexico in one of America’s many wars. In 1912, we became a state and were lucky to do so.There were plenty of critics, then, as now, who suggested  New Mexico has more in common with Mexico than the United States, has a backward uneducated population, is not nearly close to being civilized. In our early days, outlaws like Billy the Kid shot up people, miners lived a tough and tumble life camped out in nearby ravines looking for gold, and cattle ranchers hung cattle thieves from cottonwood trees. The Cerrillos Station is a new, remodeled version of an old General Store that our family visited back in the fifties.The coffee is fresh, the owners cordial, the merchandise arty and fashionable. The repertory theater that produced melodramas in the 50’s for families is no where to be seen but this little town is still typical small town New Mexico with adobe walls, pinon rail fences, garden plots in back yards, fifth wheels pulled up to utility poles, dogs running around unattended and without leashes.  Friends Robert and Eric, who came along for the ride, enjoy their coffee, and we take a quick break before heading back down the road to Madrid, another New Mexico mining town turned into a hippie hideaway and retreat for non-conformist souls who aren’t much different than the neighbors they live next too. The old pictures of Cerrillos, in black and white on the shop’s walls, make me wonder how the Hell this territory  ever made it to being an American state? I guess those back room politicians just didn’t want to see a gap on the U.S. map between Arizona and Texas?  Where you have gaps you always have issues.  

Weather Report one of those sunless days

    On the average, Albuquerque sees the sun 280 days a year.The U.S. average is 205 days. This morning the Sandia Mountains are hidden behind low lying clouds and visibility is limited. The clouds have no substance yet they hide the towering rugged peaks on our city’s east side. If you ask Albuquerque people what they like about the city, most will say, most often, ” the weather.” Now that weather, however, has been ” politicized” it is much more difficult to navigate in conversations. We old crazies, at McDonalds, have debates about “Climate Change” and whether man is big enough to have such an influence. This morning, the sun is on vacation and wisps of clouds have draped themselves over the mountains like your favorite beach blanket. The weather man, on TV, will call it ” a cloudy day” with no wind, with a thirty percent chance of seeing the sun in the afternoon. Walking the trail, I tuck up inside my jacket a little more. We can talk about weather all we like, but we get what we like and don’t like of it on a regular basis, no matter what climate theories we buy into.

Strawberry Shortcake Just before movie night

    Movie night is a Friday night extravaganza. Charlie and Sharon host and we often watch what Hollywood has cooked up to modify our behavior, influence our thinking, stir up emotions, entertain, or put us to sleep. This evening we watch Spenser Tracy in ” Bad Day at Black Rock, ” an early movie about injustice, race relations, and government cover up. It is an eerie feeling watching movies where everyone in it, and everyone who made it, are now ghosts. Seeing things that happened, but are no longer here, is almost the same for me as reading Scotttreks moments that are behind me in time’s tunnels.  Is a remembered and re-remembered moment better than the real thing? Do postcards accurately report what I have seen or done, or just reflect how I want to remember it? Strawberry Shortcake, as I remember it, or like to remember it, was spectacular and movie night is always worth doing.  

Kid Sculpture Shopping area in the Fountain Hills Park

    Art, in many localities, is given a budget by city hall. Artists are then commissioned to produce public art for public consumption. Public art springs up in parks, in downtown open spaces near city halls, by busy streets and intersections. The art is most often not controversial, but can sometimes raise eyebrows. This modest sculpture, of kids climbing a rock feature, is close to shops by the business side of the Fountain Hills park. Over six foot high, the installation has been positioned in a flower bed,close enough to be noticed, but not so close that it can be tripped over.  The little boys in this sculpture are climbing a rock feature..The little girl cradles her baby sister below them and admires a flower, not paying the boys much mind.  Boys and girls, for those who would wish otherwise, were never made the same. We all love to climb, but we don’t all have to climb the same mountains. Do women really want their men riding in the back seat? Is caring for your little sister less important than climbing a rock? Without looking deeper, and making a mountain out of a molehill, this sculpture fits the kid’s I’ve seen. Boys climb and girls watch their baby sister’s, and, when they grow up, men do watch the kids and women put do on a business suit and go to the office. They will never, however, be the same.     

Just Statues Lincoln and Reagan

    At the entry to the Fountain Hills Park are a number of statues, some seated on benches, some standing, all with commemorative plaques and praising comments. The figures cast shadows, some longer than others. Most of the statues are of men and most have been Presidents of the United States. Presidents, as we know from watching those we have voted for, have lots of good speechwriters, lots of philosophy and confidence.They enter office with one mindset and leave with another. Leading the United States, on a day to day basis, is like trying to keep water in a glass that keeps springing holes. You enter office believing you can benefit the country knowing that half the voters believe you are aren’t worth the time of day. Presidents leave office hoping they didn’t have to deal with war, a disastrous Depression, or any number of calamities that come upon a nation. You are glad, when your term is up, to let someone else drive the stagecoach. This morning Lincoln and Reagan look like old friends and it would be revealing to sit on a bench on a moonlit night listening to their stories about unruly cabinet members, hostile Congressmen and women, an unrelenting negative press, and military misadventures. There are those who would like to cart these two men and their memories away, store them in a warehouse providing props to the movie industry, We  expect far too much from our Presidents, and our Government. This country will rise and fall on the efforts of us who will never have a statue of ourselves in a park..  

Lone some George – Galapagos Tortoise Sculpture donated to Fountain Hills Park

    Lonesome George is a famous tortoise from the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific, many hundreds of miles off the Ecuador coast. He was the last of his species and died in 2012 at the ripe old age of 100, one of many species of living things to become extinct throughout the history of this planet Earth. According to a recent television documentary, dedicated to George,there were efforts to find him a mate to continue his species, but it was a losing effort. Either George was too old, liked his own company too much, or just had those problems men get past the age of fifty. How is it to live to a hundred years and be the last of your kind alive? If George had had a video camera he would have been able to show his changing world. In his younger days, there would have been men in wood boats rowing to the island to collect his relatives for the soup pot. In later years there would have been processions of scientists with recording instruments taping wires on his back to follow his movements and record his vitals. These last days there were mostly noisy tourists with cameras and sunscreen, sunglasses and notebooks packed with observations.. George passed in 2012, and, in this local park, a local artist has donated a sculpture to his memory. Lonesome George lived long enough to outlast his entire generation. Whether he was really lonesome is something he never talked much about.    

House for Sale Fountain Hill Park Area - Fountain Hills, Arizona

    Real estate has always been investment worthy. People want to own a home and homes are assets that, in America, have historically appreciated in value. In retirement communities like this, there are always For Sale signs in yards though. People die, move back home to be with the kids, decide they don’t need a second home, look to downsize, decide their second home experiment isn’t going to suit them anymore. This is typical Arizona suburbia with wide streets,cactus, stuccoed- patio homes with two car garages, covenants,property taxes, newspapers still thrown in driveways, mail delivered daily by mail women driving little white vehicles. There is a rock in a flower bed in this home’s entry way with the word ” Harmony ” engraved on it. Harmony, as used here, means no crime, living in a gated community, not having noisy neighbors after ten in the evening, good schools for your kids and grand kids. Marie shouldn’t have trouble selling this home. It is on the internet and her sign gives her phone number in large print. This house comes with a nesting bird and all the Harmony you bring with you on move in day. Houses don’t become homes till you move your coffeemaker and tooth brush in.  

Perfect for the Kid in All of Us Fountain Hills Park, Fountain Hills, Arizona

    This place is made for kids. There are no sharp edges, nothing to scrape or cut, no nails, splinters, burrs or broken glass. The brightly colored posts can be walked around but are not easily climbed, colors are primary, and water falls from the triangular sails like a cool rain. The shapes here are organic and you can hide behind,or touch to your heart’s content. Children’s voices are amplified and they are involved in their play, walking and running, under, and through the water. Their voices make a soothing melody. Besides the sails that give shade,there is a green sea serpent in the middle of this installation and a maroon lighthouse that gives the park its nautical theme.  The kids are happy this morning, inquisitive, co-operative, playful. Temperatures will rise into the nineties with no rain forecast for the next several weeks, and, if I’m a kid, I can’t think of a better place to be while my adults are acting like bigger kids somewhere else.    
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