In every crisis, you learn what is most important.
Across America, the one item most people hoarded, during this Covid- 19 epidemic, was toilet paper, followed by disinfectants, face masks, hand cleaners and sanitary wipes. After toilet paper, ammunition and alcohol came in a close second and third. When the chips are down, and cards come out on the table,” Preppers” all know what they need to barter with, their neighbors, and guard with their lives.
When jobs are gone, banks are closed, grocery shelves are bare, people keep their distance, and money is worthless as the paper it is printed on, a few cases of toilet paper, alcohol and ammunition will be worth their weight in gold.
This latest ” National Emergency” has just been a rehearsal for a bigger emergency down the road, one that will be planned as well as this one.
In our state, gun stores are closed as non-essential and liquor stores have been closed,too, though you can still buy alcohol at the grocery.
There is just so much that doesn’t make sense about this ” Government induced lock down ” that hoarding toilet paper seems just about the most rational thing a citizen can do.
We have always lived in a world full of germs, bacteria and viruses, disease, infirmities, and death.
Why, in human history, do we approach this virus any different than we ever have?
Food is always popular, with people; talking about it, selling it, growing and raising it, trading recipes, criticizing it’s taste and preparation, perfecting its creation, enjoying it with a fancy wine or domestic beer. With lots of restaurants and eating establishments closed in our community, those of us who don’t have cooking interests, or skills, fend for ourselves.
In honor of our current American lock down, due to a mysterious virus from the East, tonight’s meal is a chicken pot pie, prepared and sold by Marie Callender, in a local Smith’s grocery, for $2.79 plus tax. Slipping it into the microwave for ten minutes, with two minutes to cool down, it makes a dinner, not too much to give me nightmares, but enough to make me feel full and sleep when I turn in.
” Why do you have to write about a chicken pot pie, ” some might laugh?
I can only say that Scotttreks writes out of the moment, and this moment belongs to Marie’s pot pie. This pie has a crust many bakers would kill for, is chock full of meat and veggies, and is so much cheaper and better than I could cook on my own if I had too buy all the ingredients. We had these when we were growing up, but they were cooked by our mother, who was a master chef without the title.
Taking a few photos of the pie, and looking at it, as I eat, convinces me, that, even after this lock down becomes history, my eating habits have changed, forever.
Eating light, and eating at home, is a money saver.
Because I live in a city, far away from where people raise and grow food, I get a little jumpy in times like these.
What do us city folks do when we can’t buy a pot pie, or chicken, or pasta, or fruit, in our stores?
When that happens, revolution is just around our corner.
All this national drama, twisting around me like a tornado, makes this pot pie, this evening, much more important than it should be.
Food gets more important as it becomes harder to get.
The project is simple enough, putting up a thirteen foot shelf and using the shelf to secure a back privacy wall along a back porch wall. All that is needed is wood, deck screws, a drill, a tape measure, a handsaw, and patience.
A local Home Depot isn’t far from the house and they cut a sixteen foot, 2×8, down to thirteen feet for me. Next, I look for a box of deck screws. The deck screws, incredibly, come to $9.94, for a box of fifty 3 and a half inch deck screws. These same screws, several months ago, were, for the same sized box, in the six to seven dollar range, including tax. Made in Taiwan,the box does include a little drill bit, which I need, because the screw heads have a star pattern and can’t be driven with a normal bit.
The cost of building a house is going up at the same rate as this box of screws, around 30%. Even with an illegal immigration workforce in this state, that keeps costs down, it is going to cost a pretty penny now to put up a house. With supply chains broken and dollars everywhere,the total on my sales receipt is going to keep going up, up, up.
We are told there is no inflation, but, building this simple shelf is getting expensive.
Inflation is sometimes defined as too much money chasing too few goods.
Seeing a simple box of exterior screws, fifty to a box, costing almost ten bucks, hammers the point home.
Most of the workforce in New Mexico don’t make ten dollars an hour.
When an hour of your life gets you fifty screws, you really are getting screwed.
Across the world, an unseen virus, emanating out of China, is obsessing people and governments. Daily, we are shown body bags and stressed hospitals, see death totals that are not yet of the Black Plague category.
Total economies are shut down and we are told our jobs and businesses are not essential, but you can still buy pot and alcohol. Some people, driving the same streets they have driven for decades, are fined for being on the road and neighbors are told to call a hot line to tell the government who is not following orders. Banks are closed and you have to make an appointment for most services, and you are questioned if you want to take your money out of the bank. Congress magically finds 2 trillion plus dollars when we have been arguing about healthcare for decades, and bails their crony’s out, again.
Walking, quite by chance, out my front door, I am greeted by a rainbow masterpiece. This double rainbow, just fading, has the right proportions, right colors, and a gorgeous, rich lustre. It is quite breathtaking, radiant, and rejuvenating.
Troubled times will pass and then talking heads will analyse and tell us what they want us to believe has just happened, politicians will claim they fixed the problems they created, and life, will go on.
In a year, most of this will be forgotten, but the precedents created will live with us, forever.
This is a scene from a local Wal-Mart, a scene many Americans are now becoming familiar with.
This is the Russia we used to see on national TV, in the sixties and seventies, and talk about in high school when the benefits of Communism were trumpeted by the hippie in the back row. Now, reality, has come to roost, in our neighborhoods.
In the space of several weeks, ten million Americans have been laid off, private businesses have been shut down and called ” not essential ” by people who have never run a business. Ideas of ” social distancing ” and ” flattening the curve ” are flown from flagpoles, and executed in marching order by federal, state, county and city governments. Hot lines urge citizens to call and report neighbors for daring to keep their business open so they can feed their families.
Where we go from here is unknown, but it isn’t going to be something I accept, or like, and must resist.
!984 took a while to get here, but we are living a good dose of it now.
They are in countries all over the world and you can get cash in countries where no one speaks English and all the writing looks like hieroglyphics. The ATM’s accept debit and credit cards, let you make deposits, check balances and transfer money across accounts.They are open twenty four seven and have small service fees. There is a phone number to call if something goes haywire but we all hope we don’t ever have to call because talking to customer service techs in India is dicey.
This simple, hand penned sign, by the ATM, is a plea for help. It was left leaning against a wall behind a trash barrel, so one guesses the writer got money and did take his Sister for a nice meal at the local Jack in the Box.
This sign promises your money will be spent on food rather than drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or other vices.
Whether we should trust what we read, because the writer asks us too, is a great leap of faith.
The only thing that seems questionable in this plea for help are the letters, ” No B.S. ”
I wouldn’t have written that, if it was my sign.
When someone tells me ” No, B.S..” there is usually plenty of it that follows.
In the lobby of the Albuquerque County Line Barbecue, there is a special love machine for testing your love potential.
This ” Love Machine ” costs a quarter for its diagnosis, and, for your quarter, you can see how you measure up on the love chart by putting your hand firmly around a special handle, squeezing firmly, and waiting for your diagnosis to shoot off like firecrackers, Roman candles, or duds.
We humans like to measure. We hook up our cars to diagnostic apparatus, we use dip sticks to check oil and transmission fluids, we use IQ tests to measure intellectual ability, we use polls to decide who to elect to be our next President.
Whether this ‘Love” test is really accurate, scientific, or needed, is something academics can argue over beers around the barby at University picnics.
For those, in love, they don’t really need a machine to tell them how they feel.
A better sign of whether you are in love, or not, is to look at your credit card statement.
Albuquerque has just introduced E-Scooters to the Downtown Civic Plaza, Nob Hill, Old Town, and, eventually, other well frequented locations in the city. These scooters are lined up across from the Albuquerque Museum of Art, chatting up a storm and telling scooter jokes.
Two ladies, I talk too, say the scooters are fun to ride but you need an App on your phone to use them. There are about 750 of them, to start, and a private company, Zagster, has exclusive rights to promote in our city.
The scooters are available from seven in the morning till seven in the evening, have tracking devices installed, go 15 miles per hour, and cost the operator a $1.00 plus fifteen cents a minute to rent. The rationale is to address climate change, provide other modes of transport the younger generation will like, encourage people to get out, eliminate traffic in high traffic areas. and make money.
One of the big concerns of the Albuquerque Police Department is people driving these scooters while intoxicated, something that has already happened.
One of my issues is grasping how large American bodies are going to balance on these small running boards while going fifteen miles per hour with just hand brakes?
If the city was serious about climate change they would just make us walk in a transportation free zone.
Riding at your own risk, these days, has to be in all of our plans of the day.
We have come now to a place, in America, where adults dress and do what kid’s do,
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.
Escaping Chicago in the winter months, Greg and Judy stay in Fountain Hills, Arizona and perform every Saturday night at a close to their house Fountain Hills eatery. They are joined tonight by a friend from Seattle, Tom Wakeling, who plays bass with Lee Konitz and likes to jam with Greg and Judy when he has the opportunity.
The restaurant is full and Chadd, a student of Greg’s, and my teacher, drove us over from Albuquerque to enjoy Greg, Judy and Tom’s performance. It is one thing to talk about jazz, but the best learning comes by listening to players who know how the music is supposed to be done.
The trio plays standards out of the Great American Songbook, takes requests, and play tight, yet loose, in this small unpretentious Italian restaurant.
The accumulated professional years,of these three, nears a hundred. How do you put a value on an art that vanishes in the air after it is played? They never play the same song the same way.
Even better, than the music tonight ,is going out for an after closing bite to eat with the gang after instruments have been packed away and the restaurant/bar shuts down for the night.
Jazz musicians, musical God’s that they are, still eat the same kind of food the rest of us do.