Solicitation No B.S.

ATM’s have become many people’s bank.

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 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 took his Sis for a nice meal at the local Jack in the Box.

This sign says your money will be spent on food rather than drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or other vices.

Whether we should trust what we read, because it asks us too, is a great leap of faith.

The only thing that seems questionable are the letters, ” No B.S. ”

I wouldn’t have put that statement in there, if it was my sign.

When someone tells me ” No, B.S..” I suspect there will be plenty of it coming.

 

 

Fishing the Rio Grande fishing on rafts on upper Rio Grande

The Rio Grande river runs through New Mexico and most of the state’s population and bigger cities hug the river’s edges all the way through the state, from north to south. The river is sustained by snow pack in Colorado and this is a good year with the river running fast and high. Along the entire river, Indian, state, county officials, and even individuals dip their straws into the river and draw off water they need for their uses. 

By the time the Rio Grande gets to Texas and Mexico, it is shallow enough in places to walk across, and it’s color is muddy brown. There are packed legal folders full of legal challenges about who owns the water, who gets to use it, and in what quantities. Our Rio Grande  empties into the Gulf of Mexico and, in older times, was the lifeblood of farmers, ranchers, outlaws, Indians, miners and immigrants all living inside our state borders. 

This afternoon, rafts carry fishermen downstream with paid guides maneuvering clients to some of the best fishing spots.

I don’t know what it cost these fishermen for their guide and raft, but it all adds up to an expensive trout dinner.

The guide will give this sportsman a better than average chance to catch something worth catching.

When you come this far to catch fish you want good pictures to show your buddies back home.

A few extra bucks for a trophy fish,you can brag on for twenty or thirty years, even if it seems way too high, is money well spent.

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Waiting to go on stage-Video making new friends and seeing old ones is the best

Talking shop is a performer’s best medicine.

As one group finishes their set, the emcee steps up on stage and introduces the next group. There is a fifteen minute break between bands, enough time for people to stretch, take a walk, find the porta potties, get a burger, stroll the town, pull a hat over their eyes and take a little snooze.

Some of the spectators today are wearing T shirts from past festivals, here and elsewhere, and spend their breaks visiting with their favorite musicians outside the tent before and after each performance.

Waiting in the wings, this mandolin player plays a few choruses to keep his fingers nimble and his mind alert, rehearsing a song his group will soon be performing. His band mates are joking with a vocalist from the band that just finished their set, one of the co-hosts for the Festival. 

All the groups are good here but we pick our favorites, either by the songs they play, the way they play them, the way they handle the spotlight, the way they make us feel comfortable, or happy, or sad.

When these performers aren’t talking music they talk money, relationships, schedules, aches and pains,all of them tied together like a good Boatswain’s mate knot.

Luckily, we, in the audience, don’t have to know their business, their politics, their issues, or their motivations to have ourselves a good time. Music gives us all a chance to back away from trials and tribulations and kick up our heels.

If we wanted to be propagandized, or depressed ,we would turn on our tv, listen to talk radio, or open tomorrow’s news already written today.

No one comes to a bluegrass festival to have a bad time and we sure don’t pay for bad music.

 

 

 

 

On Stage-Video Kody Norris Band

One of the more entertaining bands at the festival, playing numerous sets over the four days, is the Kody Norris Show.

The Kody Norris show features traditional bluegrass along with dancing, clowning around, comedy, and audience participation tossed in for dessert.

Wearing bright blue and red suits on stage,their group musicianship is high and all spirits under the big tent this afternoon are in fine shape.

Kody, who is soon to marry the group’s fiddle player, Mary Rachel, asks the audience for tips on making his imminent marriage successful.

One of the best audience suggestions is , ” She is always right. ”

Everyone laughs, when they hear this wisdom,except for the ladies. They all nod their heads in total agreement and give their husbands, boy friends and significant others  stern “You should be doing this ” looks. 

We catch the band several more times between Thursday and Sunday, and each performance is just a little bit different.

Another good tip for Kody, as a soon to be husband ,would be – don’t sing the same song too many times.

Variety is always needed in performing, regardless of what kind it is.

 

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 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 something worth stealing.

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

 

 

 

Greg’s Trio at Fountain, Arizona Pizza IS EXTRA

 

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, 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.

 

 

Hand rolling cigars in DR-Video In the Zona Colonia

The little cigar making room, entered through a small corner tobacco shop in the Zona Colonia, has four men inside. One is reading the paper, another is watching the cigars being made, two men are working – making cigars, by hand, one at a time. 

” He is muy rapidio, ” I remark.

” He can do 300 in a day if we don’t talk to him, ” one of the non-workers says.

By the look on both men’s faces, who are working, they must be paid by the cigar. They are intent on what they are doing, responsible for making cigars so people that smoke them won’t smoke any flaws.

This workplace smells like tobacco.Tobacco leaves, dry and thin, are clumped around a press on the floor. There are pieces of leaves on the desk of the man in the gold colored shirt, and more on the work table of the man in the blue shirt.. It appears the two workers make a team. One man makes the rough cigars, stores them in a wood sleeve that the other man pulls to his table and finishs. The tools both men use are simple and not any different from what either might have used a hundred years ago to do the same job.

I watch the finish man pick several cigars up from his finished stack to check the smoking end to make sure, once lit, the cigar will draw air and keep its combustion.

These men take pride in their work.

If I was a cigar smoker, I would like to smoke the ones they are making this day I am watching them.

Men will turn themselves into machines if it profits them, but men, bottom line, were never made to be  machines.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Dirty Laundry four blocks away

Dirty laundry catches up with all of us.

Only bringing a carry on suitcase this trip, and looking at my pile of dirty clothes on the bed, I am down to my last clean socks and shirt. I could have brought a bigger suitcase but I wanted to travel as light as I could. Doing with less always takes more imagination than taking the kitchen sink.

In my neighborhood, this lavenderia takes my clothes in the morning, gives me a receipt, then hands my clothes back clean, folded in a plastic bag, after lunch. The charges are six bucks, which seems high, but, then again, someone has to deal with them by hand. Just putting them into the washer and dryer, unloading them, folding them nicely, putting them in a plastic bag, writing up the receipt, taking my money, all takes someone a percentage of their total life hours.

It turns out, when I get back and ask, the La Puerta Roja  guesthouse, where I’m hanging my hat this trip, has a washer and dryer I could have used for free, just paying for the detergent I use.

Next trip back, I’ll remember to ask first, and act second.

The trouble with learning most new lessons is that you probably won’t be able to use what you have just painfully learned any time soon.

Since dirty laundry is a traveler’s constant companion, I resolve, next time, not to be so impatient.

After all, dirty clothes don’t care how long they sit in a pile on the floor.

 

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