Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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If we were having coffee this week in Tucson I would point out to you how dead the city is now. Obviously people leave to escape the heat. The snowbirds, the students, and everyone who can afford to go elsewhere for the summer have left the city. The businesses cut hours and do what they can to stay in business when their regular customers are basically all gone. If you were here now I would recommend you spend the night in a resort for less than half the winter rate, or dine at one of our fancier restaurants offering a summer special. For those of us who stay all year, this is a time to take advantage of the off peak bargains and less crowded streets. Everything is air conditioned, so you will not melt.
Please sit down and let me pour you some iced tea from the extensive collection. I have place an order for new teas, arriving any day, so I am taking inventory of all the teas I need to use in the order they were purchased. I have so many flavors, but this is a basic pleasure in our lives, as well as a healthy way to consume herbs and water. I get really excited about the prospect of new teas I have not tried. Next week my collection will have expanded to about 40 choices. I am drinking a honey bush mango with a fruity taste. What is your favorite kind of tea? I probably have it on hand. I hope you like the Allman Brothers Band. I am playing a tribute until further notice. I will turn down the volume because I want to listen to your stories. What is happening in your life and writing this week? I had an average writing week. I took one day off (yesterday) and produced nothing of great note. I wrote anther tea review, and am starting to like that segment. Are you trying any new ideas in your writing?
We enjoyed a superb brunch downtown yesterday in the spirit of off-peak excursions. We went to the Coronet, a restaurant we really enjoy but seldom frequent. We like the decor in a restored historical property. The service is always excellent, but with fewer customers it is even better now. The real reason we go is for the innovative menu and bar choices. Yesterday’s brunch was a perfect example. Bob loved his eggs Florentine with gravlax. I had a wonderful dish of poached eggs over grits served with black beans. Bob’s Bloody Mary had fabulous garnishes, including a picked tomatillo. That is the item I plan to knock off and use at home. I had never thought of doing that, but am a huge fan of the tomatillo, a green fruit that is NOT a tomato. We not only had the restaurant almost to ourselves, but the entire 4th Avenue shopping district was empty. We spent some time in a used book store, where I managed to buy just a single book. On the way home we stopped for ice cream at our favorite parlor, The Screamery. We each had full punch cards for a free scoop. We loved our dessert then took home a pint of blueberry cheesecake. All in all, it was a superb little holiday with all the gourmet trimmings. I am in the minority but I honestly love summer in Tucson. The hot ghost town suits me perfectly. You may want to jump in the pool before you head out. Stay hydrated. Take an iced tea with you. By any measure it is hot outside. You may want to stop and get some ice cream.
This movable digital beverage drinking party is hosted each week by Emily at Nerd in the Brain. Please join writers from around the world for a chat and a digital drink each weekend. Read, write, comment and share.
If we were having coffee this weekend I know you will want your beverage on ice because we have hit triple digit heat. I don’t really mind it too much, but it is too much for most people. I am drinking a lovely white pear iced tea with a hint of fruity aftertaste that cools the tastebuds if not the entire body. If we were drinking tea this weekend I would tell you I did manage to write my first tea review, and found it to be easier than I thought it might be.
If you want to know the most interesting part of my week I have to tell you about my friend Gita. I was invited to a pot luck dinner party in honor of an old friend who now lives outside Guadalajara, but lived in Tucson for years, and visits here frequently. She was my mother’s lawyer, and a brilliant one. She had been a fancy tax attorney in Chicago when she decided to become a yoga teacher. She studied at Kripalu and later moved to Tucson where she developed a large following of devoted yoga students. She practiced law on the side, and was doing very well in life when she learned she has Parkinson’s Disease. She lost much of her physical strength and abilities, but still she persisted.
She became a teacher of laughter yoga, and developed a following in that innovative for of yoga, calling on her vast experience in al forms of yoga. I admired her greatly for shifting to accommodate anything that came her way. Since she moved to Mexico I had not seen her, and I assumed her Parkinson’s would be much more difficult to handle with time. I did not make the dinner party, but scheduled a private visit to catch up with her. She fit me into her busy social schedule for a visit before her donkey photo shoot.
Much to my great surprise I found my friend healthy happy, and showing no symptoms of her disease. She now spends her time studying and dancing the tango. I was shocked to see how great her recovery has been. She found a Mexican doctor who put her on the right drug, and then performed brain surgery. After ten years of pain and downhill slide, she got her life back. She drives, lives on her own, and will join a group of tango aficionados on a trip to Buenos Aires in the fall. I asked her if she felt bitter after 10 years of failure with the medical pharmaceutical industry. Her response has blown my mind and made me think about what it really means to be a yogini. She said she had been bitter during the 10 years, but then medicine gave her back her life. Parkinson’s taught her patience and gratitude. Once she got her strength and ability back she knew he just wanted to dance for the rest of her life. Gita is by far the greatest yogini I have ever met ( and I have known many great ones). Yoga is not flexibility of the body..it is strength of mind and character.
Her custom now is to meet a donkey in each city she visits and have a photo shoot. I had not planned to go along for the donkey photo shoot, but it turned out to be the icing on the cake. Here is a woman with a donkey, but not just any woman. This picture captures an ascended master with a donkey, enjoying the great cosmic joke. Dance on, Gita. Your insight and sense of humor are precious. You embody the meaning of yoga.
Let me pour you another glass of iced tea while you tell me about your week and your writing projects. I enjoy keeping up at these digital beverage parties. Read or contribute to the party at Nerd in the Brain’s party link. This movable feast takes place every weekend, rain or shine. Join us.
We had a houseguest over the weekend who was starting a long car journey to Michigan. I took her on a miniature guided tour of Tucson Saturday afternoon. We stopped at the venerable Arizona Inn, near home, to visit the Christmas tree, the croquet court, and the elegance that is the Inn. Next stop was the U of A Poetry Center. My guest was delighted at the chance to read for about 45 minutes in our fabulous environment dedicated strictly to poetry. She found some great poets, and so did I. From there we travelled to my favorite, often overlooked, art in the city, some forged metal window guards by Tom Bredlow , a Tucson blacksmith of great skill and artistry, that depict the desert animals. Bredlow is now a total recluse who continued a legacy of Raul Vasquez. Tom even purchased some of his tools when Raul passed away. He continued to hammer out super fine metal art that graces the city. These window guards are in the Barrio Viejo de Tucson, looking right at home.
Our final destination on the tour was El Tiradito. I had given her a couple of milagros carved from jet to make offering/wishes along her route. The tradition of wishing on this spot is deeply rooted in the history of Tucson. This popular shrine is in use since the 1870s. It stands on what was once part of El Camino Real, or royal road to Mexico City. Padre Kino himself was once walking on this exact location, giving it a connection to the Spanish conquest in the 1600’s. The legend surrounding the shrine is a story of a doomed love triangle and murdered lover who could not be buried in the Catholic cemetery due to his sinful final state. The murdered man was supposedly buried under the stoop of his lover’s house, where she built a shrine. Juan Oliveras is the only sinner to have his own place on the National Historical Register.
Today is Virgin of Guadalupe Day, 12 December, the day Mexico celebrates the day of its patron saint. Before the Spanish conquest Mexico had a female deity protecting it. Tonantzin was on the job since prehistory as an Aztec goddess. Her history and tradition is preColombian. She is, and has been, the local female deity for centuries. Our friend went to Mesilla, New Mexico on her first stopover after leaving us. The nearby village of Tortugas is the site of one of the oldest Virgin of Guadalupe celebrations in this country. She is being fully initiated by our local Enchantment before heading north into the snow. Her mystical as well as her physical journey is now blessed by both Tonantzin and Juan Oliveras. Nice benediction.
I had the pleasure of meeting Agustín Cruz Prudencia and his nephew Jesus at the Tucson Botanical Gardens yesterday. The copal wood carvings they brought to Tucson for sale are lively and brightly colored. I fell in love with the figures instantly. I am officially on restriction from buying any art, but I could not pass up the chance to own a piece of their stunning work. I was in a pinch for time, but made a choice to buy the frog that is happily decorating my living room now. It goes with all the art in my house, and yet has a unique quality that makes it stand out. It will be a prized momento from my encounter with these incredible craftsmen.
They are Zapotec from a tribe that lived, and still lives in a remote part of the state of Oaxaca. Agustín’s father moved his family to the capitol city of Oaxaca in order to make a living by selling his art. They now have a workshop that employs about 15 family members carving and painting the folkloric figures. The super fine painting is done without stencil or straight edge. They develop the ability to create super intricate geometric patterns by eye, by hand. The apprenticeship to learn this craft takes a long time. It is easy to appreciate all the fine work that goes into each piece. With both delicate carving and intricate paint designs these little characters pop with personal style.
They are going home for Christmas to be with their family. They will be celebrating with banana leaf tamales and other special seasonal dishes. They are very proud of their culture and cuisine, and rightly so. Both of my new young friends had spoken their native mother tongue as children, but have lost the ability to speak it after years in the city. They suffer from heavy discrimination against indigenous tribes in the city, so speaking it is dangerous. They still understand their mother tongue when they hear it. Their elders dressed in traditional clothing, and those members of the tribe in remote mountains still do. Modern Zapotec life as an artist is complicated, and includes borders and customs. I am glad they made the effort to bring this unique folk art to Tucson. I hope the sale works out very well for them so they will return. If you are in Tucson this weekend you can make a purchase at the United Nations Association of Southern AZ on 10 and 11 December. They have gifts in all price ranges for all art lovers.
My city is the best place to live, or to be dead. Tucson celebrates Dia de los Muertos in a very big way. I love the festive, colorful death party that is our own home-grown version of the Mexican All Souls Day. My own parents are in the cemetery not very far from downtown, so I am sure they will take part again this year. My hound dog now joins her grandparents in the festivities. She is scattered at the pet cemetery across town, but space and time are no longer an issue for her, and she loves to party. They will be in the ghostly part of the procession.
My friends joke with me about my extreme localism. My business jurisdiction (where I spend my money) is as tight as I can make it. I am a true believer in supporting the small business efforts of my neighborhood establishments. I love to discover local providers of all kinds. This week I discovered two new ways to fulfill my dream of finding and frequenting local enterprises. At TenWest I met Aaron Gopp, creator of a new app, Localoop. He is enthusiastic about his new service, locating businesses that meet a strict locally owned and operated criteria for people like me. It was a lucky break that he stopped to chat at our table. His directory was created for my very picky and specific needs. It will also help businesses discover and reach potential clients in the area. I have downloaded it and already have found a couple of places near home of which I was unaware. As he develops this I look forward to the guidance it will provide to consumers as well as to businesses. My neighborhood could use some economic development.
While I was out biking around town with my homies I stopped at the Local First Arizona booth. Aaron credits this group with helping him and giving him good guidelines to follow for defining what is local. This non-profit foundation exists to support local small business. It has membership and benefits, like a chamber of commerce. They have created a system of locating local food sources called Good Food Finder AZ.com This page lists local providers, restaurants, farms, markets, and aggregators. There is even information about local food assistance programs. This is a major service to society. Both the food finding and the local looping will make me very happy, and upgrade the economy around me. Do you like to shop local, gentle reader? What are your best ways to discover new places in your area?
If we were having coffee I would tell you about my exciting week attending events at the TenWest Festival. This Tucson startup/tech conference is a tiny infant version of South by Southwest, the festival in Austin that has grown exponentially. The 30 year old Austin festival is the Tucson Gem Show of trendy startup tech parties. I have not attended, but would no longer really want to go just because it is so crowded and popular. Our own home grown business incubator has organized the Tucson festival around our unique qualities.
The keynote I attended was the one about our designation by UNESCO as a city of gastronomy. I knew about it, but was interested in how it came into being and what it would mean for the city in real terms. A well known local chef, an archaeologist, a writer, a tourism PR professional, and the director of the Mission Garden spoke on the subject. We received the designation because a group spearheaded by the archeological interest group proved to UNESCO that Tucson had the oldest agricultural history in the country, documented to be more than 4,000 years in existence. The first application was rejected, but the committee gave some guidance about how to strengthen it in order to be designated. On the second try we got the coveted city of gastronomy designation. It is much more than just a vibrant restaurant scene, as our speakers explained. Food and sustainability are big interests of mine so the presentation fascinated me. I took my neighbor Heidi to that day because she is also a food diva.
Heidi and I attended two workshops before the keynote that pretty well blew our minds. The first on 3 D printing was presented by an architecture professor from U of A and an engineer currently engaged in the field of 3 D printing. We saw examples both on the screen and on the display table of objects created by 3D printers. The capability to produce small individual manufactured products has become not only affordable but incredibly controllable. I was highly enlightened by this class because my previous understanding was zilch.
After a delicious lunch we went to a presentation by Jerzy Rozenblit, PHD, a professor of surgery at the medical school at U of A. He is developing a simulator for surgeons to practice laparoscopic surgery. This is needed because it takes time and practice to become proficient in this art. Currently this practice takes place on live humans. The obvious benefit of more training before reaching into a living person became clear when we saw examples of the training data. The students “under the hood” have to learn to smooth out their movements while maneuvering two long instruments to do an operation. The tracking device on the simulator shows how erratic and out of control the student can be on initial attempts. Over time (an estimated 300 hours is needed to become really good at this) the sensor shows the device going smoothly and directly to the target organ in the body. This work will definitely save some lives.
I took two very well presented workshops on podcasting. We learned both about the popularity and effectiveness of the trend, but the specifics of getting started. Our teachers were working professionals in the field of marketing and audio engineering. The sessions were jam packed with information, and like all the presenters they invited the audience to visit them in person or on line to stay in touch. They could not have been more cordial. The fellow participants I met were equally charming and insightful. I feel sure this even will grow. I am pleased I went to see what they are doing this year. I am proud of my city’s efforts to stay on the cutting edge of technology, art and community. The major funding comes from Cox Business, which deserves a lot of credit for serving our local businesses so well. They gave away $50,000 in a shark tank style contest as well as funding much of the activity during the festival. I am their customer, so i like seeing some of the profit be plowed directly back into innovation in Tucson.
Tomorrow is Cyclovia, a super fun bicycle event taking place close to my home. I don’t always go on my bike, but this time it starts at my beloved Tucson Botanical Garden, where all participants will be invited to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit gratis. I am a local first kind of person. I like to support my local merchants and non profits because my own quality of life depends on it. I have been very uplifted by my city this week, as I will be tomorrow biking around in summer weather with my fellow Tucsonans. We live in a fabulous city with diverse cultural and commercial interests.
I am serving both coffee and tea this weekend. Please help yourself. I am drinking medium roast coffee right now to jump start this day. There is a lavish buffet of finger sandwiches, potato salad, raw vegetables, the pickles I made last week, stuffed peppers, and vegetable stew. I picked up another 60 pounds of produce again today and can use your help in eating it all. I am starting my first fermented pickles later from the beautiful pickling cucumbers I just scored. I have fermented lots of foods, but never tried pickles. Wish me luck with this chemistry experiment. You will be able to taste them some weekend soon. I am going to focus on heavy garlic and dill flavors.
What has been happening in your part of the world, gentle reader? If you want to share, or read personal tales from writers visit our group here, at Diana’s weekend international coffee share. Pour yourself a cup, fill your plate, and stay a while. Tell us what is on your mind.
I traveled from midtown to downtown Tucson yesterday to attend the TenWest Festival. This week-long entertainment and educational event is sponsored by local businesses to promote the retention of talent in town. This miniature knock off of the 30 year old South by Southwest event that happens in Austin each year is a distinct reflection of our community. Volunteer staff organizes the flow of students, speakers, and social gatherings.
I attended two excellent workshops on podcasting. Both speakers were well prepared with visual aids and stimulating material. Best of all, they are both true experts in the field. Dave Young is a marketing and content professional who helps small businesses develop materials. He has been podcasting for and with his clients to bring their messages to the public. He explained the explosive growth in podcasting and some of the reasons for the popularity of audio programs. His very enlightening presentation was followed by a more technical workshop by Bjorgvin Benediktsson, a professional audio engineer. These classes continue all week. At the end of the day a keynote speaker and a social hour are planned each day. Our speaker and social hour were upstaged yesterday by a sudden thunderstorm.
This is an odd time of year for rain in Arizona, but about 10 minutes into the social hour we heard a very loud thunderclap echo between the tall buildings where we were stationed. Shortly the rain was pouring and the winds was whipping the signs and tents around like crazy. There was a river running through it. The volunteers all had to scramble to keep the stuff from blowing into the air and doing some damage. Since the bar was set up with a special permit that was only valid for the outdoor space the few of us who were outside had to chug our drinks and run into a building. There were two of us there who had umbrellas…I was proud to one of them. The party made an attempt at restarting inside the building, but most people had scattered to the hard driving wind. I called my Uber and made my way home.
I will go on Wednesday to learn about 3 D printing and artificial intelligence. The speaker and social hour will be about our city’s special gastronomic designation from UNESCO. The food peeps will be there, and we can only hope we will have clear skies. On Friday there will be TED talk and two concerts from which to choose. I love our little start-up convention, which is only in the second year of its existence. I believe it has major potential to achieve its goal and to bring visitors from out of town to the event in the future. Our downtown has been revitalized by a tram system, and is starting to be as hip as Austin. I hope we can retain our hipness without acquiring the traffic problem they have in Austin. Wish us luck.
I went to a music festival in Tucson yesterday on a sunny hot beautiful day. My favorite local band, Calexico, was playing. The crowd was overwhelmingly college aged people. I was struck with the fact that more than 90% of the young ladies were dressed in Daisy Duke shorts. I was teasing them because they buy them pre shredded at the hem rather than cut them off and wear them until they shred.
I had a really good time at the festival hanging out and meeting the youngsters. I danced with some and joked around with a few of them. One young lady asked me if I had gone to music festivals back in the day. I said yes and chuckled to myself thinking I was dressed just like they were back in the day. The music made me very happy. The food was good, and the community came together in a super festive mood. I left early, senior citizen that I am. I was completely satisfied with my festival experience, so I called my Uber and made it home by my regular bedtime.
If we were having coffee I would tell you that my quiet, at-home routine will be suspended this week. I have signed up for TenWest, a Festival to mimic South by Southwest in Austin. There is a plethora of educational, social, and artistic content offered. The week-long event began last night. The first event I will attend is a big concert in a local park very near my home. During the week my plans include a couple of workshops on podcasting, one about 3D printing, and a symposium about our special city of gastronomy designation. I may attend the final concert and the TED talk also, even though they are past my regular bed time. This will be a great week of learning and entertainment for me. My schedule rarely gets this crowded, but this will be worth the effort. I look forward to learning a lot. I should have lots to share with you next weekend.
I can offer you coffee, or all kinds of tea again this week. I am lingering over iced roiboos tropics while we savor a heat wave here. Summer is still with us, which means my big stand-off with tidy muse has not yet been resolved. I am still wearing shorts and summer dresses. It was 94 yesterday, so there is no rush to get out the winter gear. I have promised myself that the big clothing purge will take place when I do the seasonal switch of my wardrobe. I have inquired about giving my friend and neighbor some of the jackets..but that does not really count. I am still just procrastinating…in flip flops and shorts. This too will pass.
Please help yourself to soup shots. On the buffet you will find white demi tasse cups and saucers. Serve yourself from the wide selection of soups. We have sweet pepper cream, corn bisque, tomato basil, minestrone, gaspacho,winter squash and ginger, with all your favorite toppings. Add sliced green onions, crispy fried shallots, croutons, nuts, or grated cheese to complete your composition. Although it is still warm, the produce season is leading us into winter. A light meal featuring all these different seasonal delights is a great way to share this fall weather and our news. Who doesn’t like soup? Enjoy the sensuality of the season with all the colors, tastes and aromas. Hang out and tell us what you have been doing.
In the winter months Tucson is lucky to be served by the Santa Cruz County Food Bank. The excess produce from the big produce wholesalers in Nogales is shipped to Tucson and sold. For 60 pounds of produce we pay $10.00. This boon to our budget is very welcome, since fresh fruit and vegetables make up a big proportion of our diet. My partner had to work today (Saturday), but he called me while he was out on calls to let me know that the food distribution had started in the neighborhood. The scheduled start was Nov. 3, but they had produce, so they began today. What an excellent October surprise this is!!! The truck was full of squash, coconut, tomatoes, cucumbers, two kinds of sweet chiles, and watermelon. I give away as much as I can to neighbors, and then get to work roasting and processing it before it goes bad. I will be charcoal grilling vegetables for a few hours today. I love the smokey flavors it imparts to all the dishes I make with them. If you stay for a while you can taste some tomatoes fresh off the grill with some pesto I made this week. I promises to be a very delicious day.
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The theories used to administer law enforcement agencies have changed with the times. The current political climate demands a thorough examination of the criminal justice system from top to bottom. The DOJ’s 21st Century Guidelines are a step in the right idealistic direction. Much thought has been put into the basic “pillars” of law enforcement best practices. The country seems to be more divided each day on the subject of police relationships with the public. Some paint the entire force as rotten based on the criminal behavior now available for broadcast to the world. Others advocate for support for the cops no matter what they are doing. The second group always refers to a few rotten apples, but they never mention the rest of the proverb…a few rotten apples spoil the whole barrel. Staying with the fruit analogy, I think it is the responsibility of the administrators of cities to responsibly go through the barrels on a regular basis to assure that the law enforcement culture is not rotten.
The war on drugs has not only given us an opiate addicted society, but also great opportunity for the most common kinds of corruption to flourish. Arizona is a wild west state famous for “conservative” law enforcement, al estilo de Joe Arpaio. Indeed, Arizona has had some famous historical stand offs around law and order. The Gunfight at the OK Corral was exactly that. Doc and Wyatt are symbols of everything we love about Tombstone and the legends too tough to die. After the Earps and Doc shot the Clantons they high tailed it to Tucson, and the rest is history. The Arizona Rangers were founded in Tombstone during the Territory days, and still have a proud tradition, although today they are a volunteer organization. It is a serious challenge to maintain the proud traditions and, at the same time, be vigilant of corruption. It is not a black and white question.
How do you feel, gentle reader? Do you think there is a problem with individual cops, or with the leadership? Or do you feel everything is going well with the criminal justice system right now?