Halloween creeps in as leaves start to fall off trees, pumpkins appear in windows, hot air balloons arrive for the annual Balloon fest in Albuquerque, creepy spiders turn up in school cafeterias, jackets on cold days become more than optional.
Headed for a jam session in the Albuquerque north valley, in a sedate part of the town where original settlers farmed and ranched, a family of skeletons in a resident’s front yard are wrestling with leisure, part of Halloween decorations a little early.
It is a sparkling fall day and these three, mom and dad and junior, don’t have to dress up, worry about hair styles, or designer clothes. They always look good in their birthday suits without excess weight, blemishes and imperfections to get in the way.
This family doesn’t pay me any heed as I stop to celebrate them with a few photos.
Some day, when in their same situation, I want to sit in the front yard too, watch the World Series and plan pranks to startle little kids knocking on my door.
Taking ourselves down to the bare bones is often the best way to start getting closer to the truth.
Stripped down to our bones, it is harder to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes.
The season of spooks and goblins, pumpkins and puritans is approaching.
Our local Home Depot has dedicated aisles and displays to Halloween and looking for utility wire and masonry nails to secure a few plants to my back yard block wall, so they will grow up straight and be out of the path to the back of my house, I am greeted by grisly figures and demons from the spirit world..
There are ghosts peering down at shoppers from higher shelves, opening their arms and long thin fingers to grab us as we walk underneath. There are green skeletons and little girl apparitions in white dresses that I wouldn’t want knocking at my door any time of day or night night. All of the props in this holiday section are properly scary but not scary enough to make little kids cry. Most parents, these days, take their kids to school or church functions where it is safer than walking them house to house in neighborhoods where they don’t even know their neighbors.. It is hard to figure how a Christian country, like ours used to be, could perpetuate Halloween on any scale.
Even more grisly than these blown up spectacles is what comes on the 24/7 news scream.
The development of new and more destructive weapons is still on going. Wars and revolutions play out around the world as men and women. elected and non-elected politicians. make and enforce their rules that everyone else has to slavishly obey. Television promotes drugs, lawyers, doctors, the need for insurance, the need to buy services you didn’t know you needed, the obsession to look and feel perfect. Homeless legions beg on the streets.Wall street rolls in money created by a government and financial system that rewards them for their efforts and keeps the rest of us competing with shadowy workers from abroad who keep business profits high and shareholders happy.
There is much to be scared of in this Devil’s playground.
Somehow, I don’t see much reason to celebrate Old Scratch.
Elevating him and his minions to holiday status to sell merchandise seems a bit short sighted, but altogether human.
Saving us from ourselves was even too much for Jesus.
I’m lucky today. Home Depot has my utility wire and masonry nails.
When stores stop having what we depend on, you are really going to see evil spirits come out to play.
At an annual celebration of the famed World War 2 correspondent, Ernie Pyle, at his home in Albuquerque, N.M., a docent tells the small group about the permanent closing of Pyle’s childhood home, in his original birthplace,in Indiana. As the docent continues his presentation, he reminds this aging audience of the steady inexorable disappearance of our American history, the importance of keeping history alive, the necessity of knowing our past.
Ernie Pyle was a celebrated World War 2 correspondent, but, today, there are many Americans who don’t know much about World War 2 except what they see in the movies. They don’t know Ernie Pyle, or Julius Caesar, or Frederick Douglas. They believe the American Civil War was only about the abolishment of slavery and the United States Constitution is outdated and irrelevant, written by stuffy white men who owned slaves and wore white wigs..
Where does history go when it is behind us?
Does God put His memos, research papers,videos and photos of our world on shelves in his personal library? Does he go back and review his plans and progress for the Universe and make changes in the continual roll out of his vision ? Does knowing history mean we can stop or modify what is happening to us while we are in the middle of its beginning?
On this pleasant afternoon, we are taken on a guided tour of Ernie Pyle’s life and times, in a place he fixed bacon and eggs for breakfast and read his newspaper thrown on the front porch by a neighborhood boy on a bicycle.
His house feels like a home and I walk away suspecting that Ernie would offer me a cold drink of lemonade on a hot summer day and have some good jokes to soften the wounds of our war as we both set at a little table on the front porch with empty vistas as far as we could see.
He came from humble roots but was placed in the middle of one of the worst wars in human history.
His writings and his home survive him, and remembering is something we can do for him still.
Ernie volunteered for the war but some would say reporting on everyday Joe’s from the front lines was his destiny.
The beauty of his writing is that it seems like it was written for everybody but him.
Ernie Pyle was a simple Indiana kid who liked to write and travel and found both as a World War 2 correspondent for Scripps-Howard newspapers.
He purchased a house in Albuquerque in the 1940’s and lived in it with his wife and dog Cheetah, till he was killed in the war he reported on. In his memory, his house has been turned into a National Landmark, and, once a year, there is a celebration of his life and achievements.
The house is a simple wood framed, pitched roof bungalow with shade trees around it. When Ernie moved into it, Albuquerque was a sleepy little town and he would have been on the edge of town with an unobstructed view of spectacular NM sunsets. Now the neighborhood is aging and close to the University of New Mexico where he would have taught journalism if he had survived the war that wouldn’t let him escape.
The celebration of his life is low key like he was, and, on a table in the library, where he used to read books by the fireplace, are personal letters to him from Presidents of the United States, military medals, and commendations for his war reporting. His prose is a simple yet strong as the home he built for himself.
This Pulitzer prize winning journalist was killed by a sniper’s bullet in the Pacific and he died as many of the soldiers he lovingly and respectfully wrote about that showed folks back home what their loved ones were enduring.
It is good to have a day to remember, if only once a year, those who have given so much.
Forgetting is all too easy but the wars just keep on coming.
The High Mountain Hay Fever Bluegrass Festival runs July 10-13 at the Bluff and Summit Park in Westcliff, Colorado.
A huge circus tent is set up in the town park with spectacular views of the mountains and valley nearby. In the 2010 census, the population of Westcliff was 568, up from 417 in 2000. 15 bands played this year and festival attendance was close to 4000. The Festival is a fundraiser for children of the area and helps with medical services for the town. In the last fifteen years, the event has raised almost $600,000 towards its charitable goals.
In a town of 568, you know everyone, and everyone is involved in their town. There are volunteers running shuttles that pick us up in the festival parking lot and run us up the hill to the music tent. Volunteers haul trash away, direct traffic, provide first aid services, sell tickets ,and one of them wraps the four day green wristband around my wrist and fastens it.securely. If I remove the band I will have to buy another to get back inside the grounds.
Smack dab in a beautiful piece of no where, the town and festival is big enough to attract talent and small enough to be family friendly. You can go to the merchandise tent and visit performers after their set, buy CD’s and T shirts and ball caps. There is a beer tent and country folks handle their alcohol better than most. Kids run in the grass outside the tent and even dogs are well behaved and wag their tails in perfect time with the music.
For four days, we listen to and enjoy all the banjo, guitar, mandolin, upright bass and vocal music we can handle.
When, as one of the musicians says on stage, talking about a song he wrote, you move from a country where seventy percent of people lived in the country and farmed, to a country where seven percent of the population feeds the other 93%, you are seeing real change.
When people don’t know where their food comes from, they tend to lose their humility.
When the country disappears from America, we have lost ourselves.
Bluegrass should be in every music collection, even if you don’t know where the country is and would never go there of your own free will.
The National Anthem is one of the most played songs in America. If you have played in school bands, military bands, marching bands, or are a musician who has performed at any sporting or public event, you have played the familiar melody since you were very young.
In America, individualism is worshiped, but so is big Government.
Most of us fall someplace different on the line that stretches from pure individualism towards the right end of the line to pure communism towards the left, in relation to how much government control of your life you want. It is no wonder that we shake our heads at each other, erroneously thinking we all fall on the same place on this political line that crosses itself so often you don’t always know left from right. The tug of war between these opposing dreams describes our American dilemma.
After the National Anthem, the color guard marches off the putting green and we golfers all find our assigned golf carts and roll out for a shotgun start to the golf tournament.
This golf tournament is a fundraiser for Lifequest, a group that mentors juveniles locked up in jail, believing that the Bible and good mentors will keep juveniles from going back to jail after they serve their time and are released.
Regardless of our place on any line, we know mistakes are made and not every child has a good home to come from, or a good home to go back too.
Listening to the National Anthem, I know my battle line in the sand.
If it wasn’t for mistakes, we wouldn’t be human, and, politician’s sons and daughters need to be on the front lines of any war their parents start.
The last police band i saw was in Cuenca, at a celebration for ex-pats and foreign business development in that Ecuadorian city.
This Santo Domingo events aim is to support women and fight domestic violence in Latin America.This police band provides some of the entertainment. There are uniformed officers patrolling all the tourist destinations in this ” old City.”. and, except for getting hustled to buy things you don’t want or solicited to take a guided tour from one of the many guides in the area, the Zone is very safe.
The police band’s music is contagious, in a good way.
It is good for the police to show their gentle side since most of their job deals with locking up family, friends, and strangers who choose not to follow rules.
Police are still humans, we sometimes forget, who wear guns, handcuffs, badges, drive official vehicles. play in the police band, and put people in jail.
They can never lose their humanity no matter how much bad they have to clean up.
When public servants and institutions lose their humanity, we all lose.
Sax Rats is our saxophone quartet – two alto saxes, a tenor sax, and a baritone sax.
It is cold this evening as we load into Dan’s van, drive down, set up, begin our first music set at the Holiday Stroll in Old Town, Albuquerque.
” In college, ” Chris tells us, ” I did gigs and made $50.00 a night and was happy to get it ”
” The other day, ” he goes on, ” I did a jazz gig and still made fifty. ” he laughs.
Chadd, my saxophone teacher, has a sign on his studio door that describes a musician as a person who will work most of their life to get enough skills to play music in public, play a several thousand dollar instrument, drive a hundred miles to a gig in a six hundred dollar car, spend fifty dollars on drinks, gas, and food out of their own pocket, make seventy five dollars for the night’s gig, and wake up the next morning with a hangover and barely enough money for huevos rancheros..
I expect we will be back at the Holiday Stroll again next year.
Latest government stats say the U.S. doesn’t have any inflation.
Pots and pans are on the stove, the table has been set for three, a Butterball Turkey browns in the oven. It took four hours for this bird to cook and slicing it up on the kitchen counter means dinner is close.
Alan, Sherrie, and I have Thanksgiving this year at Alan’s.
At the White House, a Trump turkey is pardoned but White House chefs are in their sparkling kitchens preparing a big feast of beef, ham, salmon fit for a King and Queen. Dignitaries visit America’s White House throughout the year, and, while discussing policy, like to wine and dine as befits their diplomatic positions.
On a turkey’s calendar, November 22 is marked with a huge X and circled for emphasis.
On Thanksgiving, they load their families into their SUV’s, tuck in their feathers, and go to the beach, out of harm’s way.
Next year I’m planning on being there with them.
Seeing turkeys, in bikini’s, is something I just don’t want to miss.
Halloween has crawled out of the grave for another year.
At a local Starbucks, Freddie doesn’t have to bone up on store policy, customer relations, or how to work the register. He hands out coffee and keeps his mouth shut because he rattles when he talks. This morning his fellow employees have a close hold on their cell phones, and, right now, are as dead to their employer as he is.
What shocks me is the lack of response Freddie gets. A few customers smile when I take his picture and ask him ” what’s going on, Dude? ”
Mostly, these days, people are into their cell phones, more dead to the world than Freddie. and trying to communicate with the living dead is a day to day tribulation.
The boneyard, I glean from this morning’s coffee experience, is closer than I’d like to be to it
Rubbing elbows with skeletons is not my favorite cup of tea.
What I really want to know is what his favorite band is?