Bumblebee Lunchtime Backyard dining



If I were a true horticulturist, I would know what this bush in my back yard with the pretty white flowers 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 busy bee doesn’t pay me any mind as he digs into nature’s lunchbox but I don’t feel like I need to swat him or interrupt his lunch.

In a natural unwritten reciprocal agreement,the bee helps the plant reproduce and he gets a good meal in return.

When flowers and bees are out and about, it means it is warm and winter is a long long way off.

Dining, while hovering in mid air, is a tricky and remarkable skill that this insect is clearly a master at.

He would, I’m observing, make a damn good helicopter pilot in the next U.S. nation building exercise.

Learning from nature, before we eliminate it all, seems to be a 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 local grocery store isn’t open till nine but you can get cash from the bank ATM if you are short.The only gas station is on the highway back to Walsenburg, a few miles south of town. There are several real estate offices with flyers posted in their windows for lookers, and the restaurant at the bowling alley is still asleep with bowling balls still cuddled up in their chutes.

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.

Even in our complicated world, eating hand made muffins, sitting in chairs that have no screws, riding in wagons pulled by carts, and listening to bluegrass music is not without charm.

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. I am on the band’s e mail list, and got my invitation via e-mail. Judging from a plate of ribs on another patron’s plate, on the bar counter next to me, the barbeque doesn’t sound shabby either.

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.

Spenser Tracy and Katherine Hepburn make an unusual couple.




Portillo’s In Fountain Hills, Arizona



At closing, Portillo’s, in Fountain Hills, is almost empty.

The eatery specializes in Chicago food, hot dogs, polish sausage and Italian Beef.

The restaurant is gleaming and has checkered tablecloths, old style movie posters and employees dressed in sporty uniforms. It is a place that Vinnie and the boys would come to eat after taking care of their numbers rackets, breaking some arms,blowing up a competitor’s vehicle with him inside it.

There are more employees in the place than customers this time of night, and, as we finish our late dinner, the help is sweeping floors, closing out registers, getting ready to hang the ” Closed ” sign in the front window and go home to late night movies and Chinese take out.

In the parking lot, the bass player, Tom, has backed his car into a close to our table parking space, in plain view, so he can keep an eye on his expensive irreplaceable stand up bass. I watched him slip the big instrument into its custom made case, at the gig, and roll it out to his car like he was pulling a suitcase in an airport terminal. He carefully laid the bass down in the back seat of his small SUV and covered it with a cheap looking Mexican blanket that would hide it.

Instruments, like your best set of golf clubs, your best operating scalpels, your best culinary knives, or running shoes, have to  be kept close.

This world is not without thieves who steal to support their drug habits.




Museo of Rum In the Zona Colonia



Rum has been around for centuries.

Columbus brought the first sugarcane to the new world, and, shortly after, the first sugar cane plantation, worked by slaves, was begun in the New World in the Dominican Republic.  A trade route was begun with Europe bringing African slaves to the America’s, trading them for rum, tobacco, cotton and other resources to take back to Europe. A rich European merchant class was built on people working under a hot sun having someone else tell them when they could stop.

Rum is said to increase good cholesterol, combat artery blockages to help prevent heart attacks and disease. Rum is low calorie, strengthens bones,promotes heart health,combats muscle pain,fights the common cold, acts as a sleep aid, extends longevity, reduces the risk of alzheimer’s disease.

Sir Francis Drake gave his sailors a daily shot of rum and pirates drank the stuff instead of water, which was not always available, especially in the middle of an ocean.

The Museo of Rum in the Zona Colonia makes rum on its premises and has a free tasting bar.

I buy myself some coffee flavored rum I hope I can get through Customs and back home, and I plan to implement a daily regimen of rum for all the health benefits that accrue from drinking it.

I will , though, never become a Los Angeles Raider football fan.

Pirates, even Jack Sparrow, are too shady for my taste, even though we both like our rum right out of the bottle. .



Delicia de la Juan Restaurant Breakfast today



This little restaurant is one street north of the D’Beatrice Comida Criolla, another local eating place near my Santo Domingo guesthouse just outside the Zona Colonia.

At lunch yesterday, there was a line here backing almost out the front door and all the tables inside were occupied.This morning, its doors are open and it is early enough to get a good table by a window. It is quiet and a cool breeze rushes through the room, coming from the Caribbean Sea a few blocks to our south.

Regulars are just finishing their coffee, joking, getting ready to go to work, all men in their forties and fifties going to jobs to support their families.

The beauty of the Zona Colonia is that you find new twists every day. As a traveler, everything begins new, and, by the time it stops being new, it is time to board a plane and fly home. When you get home, the travel spirit is still burning inside you and you see your own home with new eyes and a new heart.

Keeping our spirit alive takes a little work..

Having bacon and eggs, I meditate on spirits and hope all of mine get along today.

Keeping your body healthy for your spirits is not an unhealthy thing to do. 


Plaza Espana On an evening in March



Plaza Espana is a popular night spot in Santo Domingo.

There are events and live music here. but, this evening, early, people are just beginning to arrive as the moon rises just above Columbus’s right shoulder.

The Alcazar de Don Colon is closed and there is only a light on in the front entry where a night watchman fixes himself a cup of hot tea before he walks the Palace and talks with ghosts.

Tables in front of the restaurants will be filled before long and waiters wearing red pirate bandana’s will be shuffling out drinks till the wee hours of the morning.

In the old days, this Plaza must have been filled with shrubs, tropical plants and trees with secluded alcoves where men and women  exchanged carefully worded letters sealed with wax and lipstick.

Today, through the night, cell phones light the romance way, fingers moving like those of a nervous groom just before his wedding.

The Plaza Espana, this evening, is just beginning to heat up.







Street Empanadas One street over from Calle Estrellita



Every time I pass, I see customers at this little empanada stand – ordering, sitting in these plastic lawn chairs,visiting, stopping a moment in life, standing, moving away, replaced in moments by someone else.

It is all very random. The process is like those parts of the atom scrawled on our high school Biology board – the protons, electrons, neutrons and all the things not up there that we still don’t know about, and may never know about.

The empanada menu here is extensive and all are less than one U.S. dollar apiece. This morning, for breakfast, my order is a ham and cheese empanada, a pollo empanada and two orders of pineapple juice naturale, served with ice in a dixie cup. 

I should have tried these empanadas earlier in the trip but stuff always crowds you on trips, distractions and diversions, side trips and just plain not getting around to it. The point is, there are always places to get a quick bite within walking distance of where you are staying, if you look. 

I  appreciate fine dining with exquisite tastes and beautifully designed plates served on white tablecloths with a candle and the best silverware, but I always regret having to pay for a meal and then having to go buy more food to feel full. 

If I lived here, I would be a regular and D would give me the local price, like anyone else.


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