While in Arizona, I have my own private Minister of Culture, my cousin Tina of Scottsdale. In the past weeks, we have visited two art exhibits and the botanical gardens. I also attended a theological discussion and a Bach pipe organ concert. I wouldn’t have known about any of the events if Cousin Tina hadn’t rousted me from my desert retreat to attend. The main cultural event last week was a tour of the sparkling, gigantic new Mormon Temple in south Phoenix. Non-Mormon visitors are allowed until the Temple officially opens in March.
The Reid Park Zoo in downtown Tucson celebrated the birth of a baby tapir a couple of weeks ago. The tapir is an endangered and bizarre creature from South America. It looks like a pig with an elephant’s trunk, but it is related more to rhinos and horses than pigs. It uses its mini trunk to pull up plants for food. A while back, zookeepers brought in a male tapir from another zoo to impregnate Mama tapir. Although the breeding was successful, the pair’s relationship was rocky.
A question of manners: What is the proper way to inform a friend that you have already heard the story they have started to tell for the fifty-third time? Equally vexing: What is the proper thing do when the look on the faces of others makes it clear you have embarked on a story they have heard fifty-three times before? Do you stop mid-sentence? Do you limp onward, hoping that the story will bear retelling? As senility advances, these questions become more important. Some politely say, “Yes, you mentioned that!” as a way of cutting things short.
The oil boom hit Casselton, North Dakota last week in a big way. With a couple of big booms, the myth that crude oil which moves through our towns on long trains won’t explode went up in smoke. If an oil train derailed in a major city, the consequences could be dire. Other myths deserve to be exploded as well. One is that this oil boom will burn itself out and things will eventually return to sleepy normal on the Upper Great Plains. People who subscribe to that myth aren’t living in the real world.
A tiny Guatemalan restaurant is my favorite here in Tucson. In the kitchen, Guatemalan Grandma produces delicious food which I chronicled here a few years back. I still go there...
One thing about city living: You can go days without any outside social contact other than the checkers at the store! The checkers here are friendly. They tend to be...
Flew home from Tucson a few days last week for an early Christmas with family. I discovered anew why I went to Tucson in the first place. The high temperature during my brief visit home was one degree above zero. Lows hit -25 F. I dragged my Ford Ranger out of the shed to serve me while back home. The old pickup seemed reluctant, almost arthritic. The starter groaned. The engine died at intersections. It wasn’t the Ranger of those first 250,000 miles, that’s for sure. I stopped by Fair Meadow Nursing Home to see great-aunt Olive. She’s 102 years old. I don’t know how many miles that is.
Count me amongst the world’s fortunate: I cannot for the life of me think of one thing I want for Christmas. I walked up and down the mall the other day. It all bored me. Only the pet store drew me in with its cuteness and possibility, but five minutes of that thought was enough. The pet store is no place for impulsive decisions. The book store carries fewer interesting books all the time. Perhaps the good books have been already written.
Most of us have been raised to recoil at cruelty to animals, at least if it is done within our sight. But cruelty to humans? Ha! That’s a different story. That’s how we get our laughs! After Halloween, a video made the rounds of parents who hid their child’s candy and told them they had eaten it all. The video captured the child’s despondent reaction. Their eyes got wide. Naturally, the children cried.
This season of gratitude, I am thankful for beepers. Where would we be without them? The alarm beeps to get us out of bed. Otherwise, we might sleep all day. The washer beeps to remind us to put the clothes in the dryer. The dryer beeps to remind us to fold. Recent dryers are more persistent. If you don’t get there right away, they will beep again in five minutes. The microwave beeps to remind you to take out the mug of tea so you don’t find it there two days later, cold and dark.