Waiting in Line Smith's Grocery, Albuquerque, New Mexico

    It is not quite seven in the morning, and at seven the Smith’s grocery opens up for senior citizens, those over 60. We, in this line, aren’t asked for our ID’s and grey hair seems to be good enough to get us in into the store at seven. A store employee tells us that carts have been wiped down and sterilized, and the most customers they can let in the store, at one time, is 150 . Some people in line now wear masks, some check their cell phones, some talk, most shiver as the sun is barely coming up. Waiting in line is something we all do, but waiting at the grocery at seven in the morning, standing six feet apart, wearing masks, watching the economy melt down, is a new experience. We read about riots across the world as people fight against government instituted shutdowns of jobs, livelihoods, businesses. We hear about long lines to buy food, rationing, and lack of food to buy on the shelves, something you can already see inside this store. It will seemingly get more ugly, but, this morning, everyone is patient. Ordinary people will go along with the party line, for a while. When they are pushed too far,however, see their freedoms taken, see their country, as they knew it, stolen before their eyes, then ordinary people won’t be so nice. When the herd stampedes, fences are broken down, people get killed, and you best stand out of the way. Often, cures kill you quicker than the disease. 

Chicken Pot Pie Gourmet TV Dinner

    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.  

Waffle House Shutdown Tramway/Central, Albuquerque, New Mexico

    ” We are not in the food business. We are in the people business. ” Joe Rogers Sr. – Co founder of Waffle House Inc. says on their website. The Waffle House has been in business since 1955 and has seen some history. The country, since then, has been through the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam, several recessions, the Gulf Wars, the Moon Landing, Aids epidemic, legalization of pot in some states, the creation of food stamps, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 9-11 bombing, the introduction of computers and cell phones, the ” citification ” of America. This store hasn’t been here since 1955 but it has been here enough years to be a landmark in our local area, always busy on the weekends, but open 24/7 for quick economical food cooked right in front of you. At one time, this place was my early morning hangout for coffee and conversation. Since the Covid-19 explosion, this business, as well as all restaurants and food places in New Mexico, that can’t do drive up, or delivery, have been shut down, by order of our Governor, following what other Governors are doing in other states.  Why the Waffle House remained open during all the other bumps in our United States history, but is shut up tight for this bump, is something talking heads will discuss on television shows on Saturdays. Whether life will resume, as we knew it, after this whirlwind of emotion has passed, is an unknown. Even  ” People Businesses” are in jeopardy these days. For everyone associated with this business, ” shut down” has become very very personal.

Watching the Fire During a power outage

      Back in ancient days, cave men only had fires to keep them warm, and the skins of animals fashioned into clothes. We doubt  all the women looked like Raquel Welch, but then the men weren’t Brad Pitts either. Both sexes must have found something to like about the other though because we are still overpopulating the planet. Last night, the electricity went out and all I had was a phone that worked on batteries, a flashlight with batteries, and some matches.  Sitting in the dark, I Googled the Public Service Company of New Mexico, after checking my circuit breakers in the garage, and confirmed there was a power outage in my part of the city. Sitting in the dark without electricity, not hearing your refrigerator work hard to keep your stuff from spoiling, the living room was very very dark, I kept thinking about those old ancients huddled around their fires, back in caves, looking out the door of their homes, with no doors, at a great star filled sky with no plausible answers for what created it, except for a God, or Gods.  The only thing I know about electricity is that it works when you flip a switch, or plug something into an outlet in the wall. It runs our world. Sitting in the dark with cell phone in hand, I read about coronovirus and realize we could have it much worse. When the power goes off, we aren’t a whole hell of a lot better than those cave men.  

Empty Shelves How did we get here?

    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.         

Bumblebee Lunchtime Backyard dining

    If I were a true horticulturist, I would know what this bush in my back yard is called. I would know its scientific and common names. I would know if the plant has medicinal uses, how much water it needs, the proper way to trim it, the best times of the year to transplant. In the city, us city folks don’t always keep up on the nature around us. In jungle villages, even little children know every plant and animal within their touch, how they can help and hurt. I do like the fact that this getting bigger bush gives me shade, hides a neighbor’s back yard from view,doesn’t take a lot of maintenance and care, has nice flowers and attracts birds and bees. This bee doesn’t pay me mind as he digs into nature’s lunchbox. Dining, while hovering in mid air, is a tricky and remarkable skill. This guy would make a damn good helicopter pilot in the next U.S. nation building exercise. Appreciating nature, before we eliminate it all, seems to be good operating policy.  

You can sleep when you are dead coffee sign deja vu

    The last time I saw this sign was in Montevideo, Uruguay at the Ramon Massini Hotel/Suites. That sign was in the lobby near a coffee machine operated with tokens you bought from the front desk. This afternoon I see the same sign at Candy’s Coffee in Westcliff, Colorado. It is like seeing an old friend that you have lost touch with and figured you would sadly never see again. I’m sure I’ll find this sign hanging somewhere else in the world down my road, but, at the moment, I don’t know  where. Being able to still be surprised is something I’m thankful for. Knowing that drinking coffee means I’m not dead, I enjoy my cup at Candy’s all the way to the bottom. If I were superstitious, I would believe this sign is trying to tell me something that I haven’t yet grasped.  

Sugar and Spice Mountain Bakery Westcliff, Colorado

    On a Saturday morning, Westcliff is closed for business. The Sugar and Spice Bakery is one of the few places open in town this early and seven patrons are already lined up ahead of me getting something to eat. The two young women running the shop wear plain long skirts and blouses with plain bonnets on their head, their hair bundled up under each bonnet. They are Mennonites, who, along with Amish,have settled in this area in the last few years. I saw several girls, dressed  exactly like this, working at the bowling alley cafe yesterday and admired their work ethic and modesty when serving overweight middle aged women in shorts and tattoos, ordering chicken fried steak and mashed potato dinners. In our evolving world, the Mennonites and Amish ,in Westcliff ,might be the only ones  in our country saying “no” to progress. While this planet spins, those of us waiting in line,know you can’t beat good home made muffins, scones,and apple pie for breakfast with a hot beverage to warm your hands. We can buy our food out of machines but eating that way just doesn’t raise our spirits. I’ll be back tomorrow for more blueberry muffins and hot coffee, and their sign on the door tells me they will be open at seven a.m. God doesn’t have to get in the way of hard working business women, and He doesn’t.  

Barbecue Blues County Line Barbecue

    In the shadow of the Sandia Mountains, the County Line Barbecue is packed this Friday night.  The entertainment tonight comes from the  “Radiators”, who are singing and swinging with an upright bass, mandolin, lead guitar and vocalist, playing originals and top 40 hits. The County Line has Texas longhorns hung on its walls, pictures of cowboys and horses in every dining room, and acoustic guitars signed by musicians who have played here since it opened. The men’s bathroom has a poster with pinups of the 50’s that is nostalgic for guys over ninety. There is an unusual horseshoe chair you can sit in for luck,and, in the front entry of the restaurant, a  “Love Testing Machine.” Barbecue and blues blend well, and, even though their marriage has been tempestuous, they could take the ” Love Machine ” all the way to the Moon. Next visit, the house ribs will be a must try. Good ribs, baked beans, cole slaw, cornbread and potato salad all help chase the blues away, and keep them at bay.  

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.  
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