Waiting for the Doctor, after a nurse has checked my oxygen levels, put me on a scale, written down my issues on her note pad, the examining room is as basic as the intake procedure.
There are some Q tips in a little jar next to the sink. There is an examination table with a paper sheet on top of it..There is a secure box for used needles, a few magazines in a little rack on the wall. A medical equipment tool is close by, used to peer deep into ear canals. There are posters on the walls warning and informing about flu season, shingles, sexually transmitted diseases and a chart that indicates what weight I should be for my height. In some rooms like this, doctors display their certificates of graduation from medical schools and photos of their kids.
In most examination rooms, wherever they have been, I have had this exact same bone chart to occupy my mind.
We have 206 bones in our bodies when we get to adulthood.
What I can’t figure is why this guy is always smiling around the world and why he has such a good set of teeth?
Put him in a nice set of clothes and he could be life of the party.
His teeth look better than half the adult population of the United States and he has a big future promoting the American Dental Association.
He wasn’t, by a look at his choppers, a drug abuser.
Near Watrous, New Mexico, I have always sped past an I-25 highway sign that reads simply, ” Fort Union . ”
This trip, I exit, and follow the Old Santa Fe Trail that brought people west in the eighteen hundreds looking for opportunity.
After the Civil War, poor folks, who didn’t have prospects, came out west to start over. People with money, wearing suits, followed them, looking to build fortunes in a wide open territory of the United States before it was carved up into states by wealthy and powerful men who wanted to make more of what they wanted most from life.
The Santa Fe Trail became one of major routes taking settlers west and along its length the government built military forts to secure the land, protect settlers, provide law enforcement, settle disputes, and fight Indians who weren’t pleased with these invaders.
Fort Union, in it’s heyday, had 1600 soldiers, the only hospital for hundreds of miles, a jail, church, wagon repair shop, arsenal, and was a distribution center for food for military forts throughout the southwest.
The national monument opens every day of the week, 8 to 5, has a museum, and a staff wearing uniforms give tours every few hours.
The wind blows this morning and during the winter this place is brutally cold, isolated, and basic.
The most interesting fact I discover is that the fort had women working and living inside it as laundresses who drew regular military pay and had their own quarters.
Knowing how tough it was for men to be here, it must have been even tougher for women, and having women here, must have given the Commanding Officer grey hair.
Not knowing whether a man is going to protect a woman, or assault them,and how love and lust affect human behavior and execution of orders, is a Commanding Officer’s worst nightmare.
” All of Me ” is a jazz standard, a song called often at jam sessions and performances, a standard that has been going strong since the 40’s.
Tonight’s performance brings back the Big Band era after World War 2 when ballrooms,in big as well as small towns, turned lights down and let dancers cuddle through the melody with their feet making tiny squares on the dance floors as emotions arced back and forth between husbands and wives, lovers, friends in the process of becoming more than friends.
The featured vocalist this evening is a transfer to the band from Virginia and is introduced by Chris, happy to have her singing with the band.
Lillian caresses the song and it holds up well, even if it is played by musicians wearing camouflage pants and black T shirts.
In the old days,these musicians would have worn suits and ties and the vocalist would have packed herself into a Las Vegas torch singer dress.
Music, as does art,literature ,or drama, captures the mood. time, and place when it was composed and shows us how we used to be.
” All of me”, tonight, wraps a generation in it’s arms and gives them all a big gentle honest kiss.
In the American Civil War, drummer boys lead troops into battle and were one of the first to be shot by opposing forces. Paintings in the White House show George Washington surrounded by a drummer and flute player when he was surviving Valley Forge and winning our disagreement with Britain. GI’s in World War 2 were entertained by singing show biz legends at the front when they had a rare break from spilling blood in someone else’s fight. Music and fighting men/women have always had things in common.
Tonight, the 44th Army New Mexico National Guard Band is doing a free concert at the Albuquerque Museum of Art. Food and drink is available, crowds are good for a Thursday night, and the band performs jazz standards, big band charts with solos and lots of rhythm. During the show, a female soldier joins the band on stage and belts out songs for an appreciative crowd.
Everyone has to play their part well tonight to make the whole group sound good. Like the military unit, that they are, the soldiers must play in time, play in tune, play their written and improvised parts in the style and spirit required. Their marching orders are to follow the conductor when he moves his hands in front of them, left and right, up and down.
After the big band plays, a smaller ensemble of brass players march onto the stage, literally, and play rousing New Orleans brass band music.
After the concert, the audience and some of the soldiers, hang out on a nice summer evening, not in a hurry to leave.
Music brings people together,in spite of wars ,and keeps them together, whether they are military, or not.
I didn’t get a builder’s tour but this birdhouse comes with a sturdy shingle roof, spacious front porch, and a back door that can be opened to clean inside. The home’s front door is a round hole, big enough for a small sparrow to enter but small enough to keep out a coyote, hawk, or house cat.
This is one of Charlie’s birdhouse masterpieces..
The last one he made was more complex, a bird mansion that resembled a traditional New Mexico Pueblo, complete with ladders to roofs and a kiva. We all agreed it should be hanging in an art gallery but it is destined for Birmingham, Alabama for grand kid’s and a lucky bluebird family.
Us Charlie supporters, haven’t been on line yet to see what the going price is for “custom” birdhouses, if you could even find a custom one like this for sale..
More than likely, you can buy your birdhouses cheapest from Amazon but Charlie makes them for free for family and friends.Even a dirt poor rice farmer in Vietnam can’t sell his birdhouse for nothing.
If I were a bird, I would park my feathers inside this roomy mansion, turn on my big screen television and watch Hitchcock’s ” The Birds” ,or a documentary on Charlie “Bird” Parker.
I would move into this birdhouse now, in a second, if i could squeeze through the front door.
In the lobby of the Albuquerque County Line Barbecue, there is a special love machine for testing your love potentials.
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 ,or scientific, is a different kind of measurement.
Most of our science isn’t as true as we think it is, and humans tend to be more superstitious than scientific. Wearing your lucky socks when you watch your favorite team’s basketball game, in a championship series, makes no sense at all, yet fans swear it makes a difference.
For those in love, people don’t 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.
Under the ” Home of the Big Rib ” rib, as you walk towards one of several back dining rooms at the County Line Barbecue, is a lucky chair.
We all have our favorite chairs. Yours might be an old recliner that you found on the sidewalk with a ‘ Take Me ” sign pinned to it like a donkey’s tail. It might be an ancient folding chair you drag out of your garage and open up on your front porch like folks did in the old days. Your favorite chair might have a hard back, torn cushions, scratched legs where your dog or cat wanted to get your attention.
My favorite “LUCKY’ chair, this evening, is made from horseshoes. I sit down in it to improve my luck as I listen to the ” Radiators ” slip into a blues tune in the bar.
Some artisan has collected these worn horseshoes and has welded them into a quirky,quite comfortable chair, and, as I sit ,and tap my right toe to the music, I feel my luck coming back in spades.
Barbecue, horseshoes, cattle, branding irons and the Old West go hand in hand and those old time cowboys sure didn’t live on just jerky, pitching horseshoes and playing poker.
You can’t tell me they didn’t fix themselves an occasional barbecue dinner in the middle of a long cattle drive across wild and hostile Indian country and blame Indians for the lost steer.
On reflection, if my new luck starts to weaken, me and this chair are going to have another therapy session.
When I come back next time, I’m going to try this chair again for a luck recharge, eat all the ribs I can, and ask for a sarsaparilla root beer.
Luck, these days, is hard to come by, and I always need luck at the Sandia casino down Tramway near I-25.
If I didn’t know better, I’d think the Indians were still fighting us, but this war they are winning.
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.
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 (18 and older), encourage people to get out, and eliminate traffic in high traffic areas.
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,