Today is not only Easter, but also the kickoff for Cowboy Poetry Week. Since the former event is well covered by the churches and press, I will devote the next seven days to the ridin’, ropin’ poets of the Old (and New) West.
If Jesus Was A Cowboy
The present calendar year presents a small dilemma and unique challenge for fans of the Cowboy poetry genre. Since the first day of the poetry week coincides with the Easter holiday, the question might be asked, “What if Jesus was a cowboy?” On a preliminary note, this sounds kind of fanciful, but in reality a variety of Country and Western singers have pondered the idea and over the years recorded tunes with similar titles.
The short list includes Jesus was a Cowboy (Brady Wilson Band), Jesus Was A Country Boy (Clay Walker) and God Must Be a Cowboy (Chris Ladoux). All of these songs are find and dandy for a listen on Easter Sunday, but instead, I have chosen a sincere and thoughtful tune from an obscure singer/songwriter named Kevin Reid. Furthermore, the song is performed by David Glen Eisley, a California rocker of some note.
This blog has been also posted at my alternative site, Bluefoxcafe, which can also be found at WordPress.com. I am currently undertaking an experiment to decide which place gets more traffic.
Like many things today, pumpkins carving is a re-discovered art that is reaching new heights. No longer are we graced with just the toothy smile of a Jack O’Lantern, but instead, today’s pumpkin carvers have dedicated themselves to creating strange, eerie nocturnal scenes, like the one visible above.
My 2015 Halloween Rant
I can’t believe it’s Halloween time again. The frost may not yet be on the pumpkin because of global warming and the World Series may still be playing live on your flat screen TV, because of increased TV revenues, but the calendar actually says October 31, which means its All Hallows Eve, the night before All Saints Day. And to make things better for those who like to party on the evening proceeding All Saints Day, Halloween 2015 happens to fall on a Saturday.
Like everything else in America and the world, Halloween is changing. Of course, our world is changing too, so it not at all unexpected to see evidence of these changes on this popular holiday that occurs right before the popular Celtic holiday of All Saints Day. Evidence of these changes can be seen just by viewing the new array of costumes that are released every year right about this time.
On The Dark Side
Images like this one are all over the internet and it is not inconceivable that the recent transformation of this nation’s beloved Olympic star is not playing well among the general public. Perhaps this is just the tip of the iceberg or maybe just an overzealous outburst of the holiday season.
It’s hotter than hell out here on the banks of the Missouri where the prairie meets the mountains. Thunderheads appear almost every afternoon now, but more often than not they drift on by, dropping their precious moisture elsewhere.
All of these things are sure signs that hot dog and ice cream sales are booming and that a spectacular and awesome fireworks display looms in the near future.
Happy Birthday America. How does it feel to be 239 years old?
Ready To Roll
I would like to say that this picture shows how I travelled around the country in recent years, but in reality, this is far from the truth. This partiçular image was made while walking down the street in Portland, Maine back in the days, when I had a studio apartment and an almost, full-time job, which enabled me to keep my friendly place of abode.
For several years I made a meager living writing content for an American internet company based in California. Since I was able to send in my work via e-mail and receive my pay through Paypal, I was able to travel freely (within my financial needs) as I produced my many short articles and filler pieces.
I knew I was skating on thin ice with this gig, but it was fun, so I continued with it until the inevitable actually happened, the number of writers had far exceeded the number of assignments available.
The end came so quickly that it caught be by complete surprise. I had just turned off my computer and left the Winnipeg Public Library, so I could withdraw my earnings and get a bite to eat. When I returned to the library and turned my computer back on, I found out that all my future assignments had been removed and that I needed to take an evaluation test. This turned out to be a polite way of dismissing me from the company.
I just happened to be in Winnipeg, Canada, when I found out that my services were no longer needed. So the very next day, I began my short journey back to the U.S. and my much longer quest for economic security.
This photo was taken at sunrise on the east side of Winnipeg as I headed back to the U.S.
New York City is a watery place, a geographic reality made visible by this photograph, which was taken from the deck of the Staten Island ferry. The Staten Island ferry has often been called the best free ride in America. I alsways ride it whenever I am in the city. The view of the Hudson River delta and the many islands that dot the bay are priceless, even to a New Yorker……….Wouldn’t this place make a great national park?
These pair of lions can be found guarding the stairwell to the second floor in the Boston Public Library. I love the grand old libraries of the Northeastern big cities, and not surprisingly the Boston one is a real doozy.
Having spent endless hours in this and many other similar institutions, leaves me with nothing but good words for the American library. Ben Franklin sure knew what he was doing when he started this system. Not only are they great places for the scholar, but they also tolerate the vagabond and bum, who just wants a warm place and a good magazine to read.
This picture of the Portland harbor with the oil tanker in the background was actually taken in the town of South Portland. This metropolitan area was my home for many years. The ferry rides here aren’t free, but they do take you to some inhabited islands, more reminiscent of Seattle than any other place in the U.S.
Philadelphia would be a great place to spend the Fourth. Not only do you have a spectacular fireworks display, but also the Liberty Bell can be found here, plus all that rich history that harkens back to the times when “The City of Brotherly Love” was the nation’s capitol.
Unfortunately, I was here in the spring, so I missed all the fireworks……But I did see Charles Barclay shopping in a local supermarket.
Niagara Falls, NY
No journey around the U.S. would be complete without a pretty picture of Niagara Falls. Actually I had to sneak across the border to Canada to take this picture.
The Little Pee Dee River
When I visit South Carolina my destination is the Pee Dee region of the state, which is situated in the Northeastern part of the state near the North Carolina state line. This picture was taken on the Little Pee Dee River.
I spent several beautiful autumn months in this midwestern capitol city. In fact, this photo was taken from the state capitol building, which sits on a high hill overlooking the city. The stately building has a shiny gold dome and a huge interior foyer, which you can climb by negotiating many series of narrow stairs.
The Des Moines river flows through town and in places is lined with huge, graceful cottonwoods.
Sioux City, Iowa
Thanks to a few reservations in nearby Nebraska and South Dakota, Sioux City is a bit of Indian Country stuck smack dab in the middle of Iowa’s cornfields. Maybe that’s why this pink house is here…..hopefully not. Anyway, visit Sioux City and you can have Native men ask you for extra cigarettes and spare change. Or you can head across the Missouri River and get a slightly rosier view of Indian life by visiting a powwow or a casino.
I liked Sioux City for its funky street graphics, long lines of freight cars and outdated architecture. It was a great place to have a camera. And of course like almost every declining downtown area, there were those brave, creative souls trying to fix the place up and bring in some new business.
Rapid City, South Dakota
I just spent a day in Rapid City, but I did get this really neat photograph of a grain elevator standing tall in the noon day sun. Then later in the afternoon I took a bus to Billings. I would have stayed longer, but there wasn’t much day labor work available and emergency housing didn’t look very appealing either.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
On my way to Sioux Falls, I got a ride with a trucker driving an empty hog trailer. He had just dropped his load in Wisconsin and was headed home, when he picked me up. He told me there were lots of construction jobs in Sioux Falls because the man on the TV said so. This was a story I often heard repeated, but when I got to the city, the only work I could find were day labor assignments unloading trucks.
One day a mover showed up outside the labor office, needing help. It was a clandestine offer, but I needed a way out of Sioux Falls, so I rode with the trucker to Rapid City, where we filled one small household with furniture and then parted ways.
In Billings you get your first real glimpse of the Rockies. Still, it’s a high plains kind of town, situated about 50 miles north of the Little Bighorn battleground. Off to the northeast is the North Dakota oil patch, which helps drive the local economy. Stir all this together and still you can get a little taste of the Old West here.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is named after its earlier counterpart in New Mexico. Las Vegas (NM) started out as a stop on the Old Santa Fe Trail, but grew substantially when gold and silver were discovered nearby. In its heyday, Las Vegas (NM) had the reputation of being one of the wildest town in the West, but today it is a quiet Hispanic settlement on the eastern flank of the Sangre de Christo Mountains. Perhaps, a 100 years from now, Las Vegas (NV) will be a quiet Hispanic city and some other western place will earn the title of “Sin City”.
This city used to be a very nice place, but today it is sometimes referred to as “Alber-crack-ee”. Still, the University of New Mexico and Sandia National Lab are located here, drawing a lot of professional people to the area.
These pictures were taken along Old Route 66, which is locally known as Central Ave.
Taos is an interesting mountain town that has grown a lot in the past years. The traffic through town can be horrendous, especially during ski season, but the town is still worth a visit.
To escape all this madness, just drive west to the Taos Gorge bridge, where you can gaze across stunning landscape, like you see here.
Located just north of Santa Fe amidst several Indian pueblos, is Espanola, one of the Hispanic strongholds within New Mexico. On a drive through town the place looks a little rough and tumble, due to the antiquated storefronts in the downtown area. A few are closed down, but many still support active businesses.
These places stand in stark contrast to the big chains found out by Walmart and Lowe’s. For the creative photographer the old storefronts are a visual gold mine, for they harken back to an era, when local businesses dominated small towns like this. Here, I photographed a farm supply business that looks more pioneer than Spanish, but yet this place is open and ready for business.
Santa Fe, New Mexico is the oldest and highest state capitol in the U.S. It is also where the Santa Fe trail ended and the Camino Real (Royal Road) into Old Mexico began. Later on, the California Trail became a reality and so the small crossroads grew.
Today, it is a cultural hub for artists, new age entrepreneurs, Ed Abbey fans and well-to-do desert rats. Though this milieu of higher minds is on the decline, their presence is very noticeable. And, if you spend any time here, you are bound to cross paths with the thriving local Hispanic and Southwestern Indian cultures that have lived in the region for many centuries and more.
For me, cheap motels have been a godsend. They offer a nice alternative from camping out or staying at a rescue mission. Having the space to yourself is wonderful, although the down side is that they are still rather expensive are usually require a full time job to pay for the luxury. This particular picture came from a place I stayed at in Billings, for a few weeks.
Duluth is the birthplace of Bob Dylan, though he wasn’t known by that name when he was born here back in the forties. To honor the singing bard, the city has renamed a downtown street, which is now known as Bob Dylan Way.
The first time I saw the Bob Dylan Way, I was pretty well down and out…..so much so that I spent the first night camped out on a park bench, watching the oil freighters come cruising through Duluth’s vertical draw bridge at the wee hours of the morning.
Then I borrowed some money from a distant relative, so I could spend a night in a motel. Finally, I left town and hitchhiked to the Twin Cities. I guess I was living the Bob Dylan Way.
The Twin Cities
I did the hostel thing in Minneapolis, at least until I ran out of money and had to head south using a 100 dollar bicycle as my means of transportation. Despite all the high rises downtown near the river, Minneapolis and St. Paul, too, have a lot of wonderful green spaces and natural lakes, where you can go swimming.
Today, is the 17th of March, better known as St. Patrick’s Day. Here in Montana I got the day off, though not because my employers love the popular saint from the Emerald Isle. I got the day off because it snowed. It was only an inch, but that was enough to keep my crew that worked at the local landfill from fulfilling our duties on this beloved holiday. So it’s off to a local pub for some green beer and a chance to get lucky on a keno machine. Hope everyone out there has a good time also.
A Few Images To Get Your Prurient Interest Going
No joyous holiday would be complete without a few provocative images of people out celebrating and having a good time. Here are few that I found on the web. Enjoy the holiday.
1. Free Turkey – Thanks to the generousity of other Americans, l can enjoy a hot Thanksgiving dinner without spending any money or doing any cooking. I know this sounds very callous, but with every avaiable nickel going towards putting a roof over my head, the chance of going to a place like the Salvation Army to enjoy my hot sliced turkry and pumpkin pie is wonderful. Maybe next year I will be in a position, where I can contribute more.
2. Good Health – Even though I somedays walk as many as ten miles on my local rounds, I am grateful that I am able to do this without any discomfort or pain. Many others ( some of them much younger than me) are not so fortunate.
3. Thursday Afternoon Football – Another decadent pleasure that seems to have become a mainstay of the fourth Thursday in November.
4. Spiced Eggnog – This goes well with #3. I like the store-bought version bettrr than the homemade variety that some people work so hard to make.
5. Butternut Squash – Today most commercially produced pumpkin pie is made from the pulp of butternut squash, which is slightly sweeter in taste and lighter in color to real pumpkins.
6. Native American Agriculture – How can one enjoy a Thanksgivinf Day feast without paying tribute to the diverse crops of squash, corn, beans and pumpkins that had been developed in the Americas for so many centuries before the pilgrims arrived.
7. A Sunny Day Here in Santa Fe – This part of the country has justed passed through a wicked winter storm, which dumped a whole bunch of snow and sent night time temperatures. However, the storm has passed, the days are warmer and the mountains are covered with the white stuff. This makes for good skiing, an abundant spring runoff and a pretty holiday sight.
8. A Reprise from Black Friday – Even though I spent the last two weeks on a temporary job helping a new sporting goods store open for Black Friday, I am grateful for the wages already paid and the fact that I don’t have ro work on Friday.
9, Comet ISON – Even though it appears that the comet has broken up (bummer) I am grateful to Hubble, ESO, NASA, SOHO and ISON for keeping an eye on the voyageur from the Oort Cloud.
10. A New Pair of. Blue Jeans – On the Tuesday before T-day a family member mailed me a brand new pair of jeans. They are due to arrive on Saturday.
Today, Valentine’s Day is a popular commercial holiday, but you might not know that February 14th is also an official feast day in the Anglican, Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox churches. The actual celebration can be dated back to the early Christian days in Rome, when several Christian men by the very same name were put to death by the Roman authorities. The two most common references to Saint Valentine include Valentine of Rome, a priest, who was executed in 269 AD and Saint Valentine of Terni, who was martyred in 197 AD. Take your pick.
The inspiration for this post comes from another blogger, Lynn Viehl, alias Paperback Writer, who recently put up a post entitled, Ten Things We Ladies Don’t Want for Valentine’s Day . Among some of her most intriguing items on the list were a Tattoo Shop Gift Certificate and a Vajazzling Kit. After reading the entertaining blog it was only a short step until I was cruising the web to see what other people had to say on this matter.
Books did not rate very high on Valentine’s Day, with cookbooks being subject to special scorn. Nonetheless, even ordinary reading books made some lists, a suggestion that contrasts with a blog I posted on Valentine’s Day 2010, entitled Buy Your Sweetheart A Book For Valentine’s Day. Looking back, I guess this was not a very good suggestion, especially considering that at the time I was trying to plug my own self-published titles.
High on the list of things not to buy was lingerie. Most common complaint was purchase of improper fitting items and the ultimate comparison with perfectly-shaped professional models, such as one might see in a Victoria Secret catalog. Along similar lines, memberships at health clubs or purchases of exercising equipment were also highly discouraged.
Another item that was almost universally discouraged was flowers, especially plastic ones. The one possible exception here, might be flowers that were actually delivered by a florist.
Chocolates received a more mixed-bag of positive and negative reviews, indicating that there might be a sizable number of chocoholics among the female population.
From my research other discouraged items included household appliances (especially vacuum cleaners), flannel nightgowns, stuffed animals, gift cards, sex toys and music CDs. So now that the field has been narrowed down a bit, happy shopping guys, for Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.
Mardi Gras literally means Fat Tuesday, though many Latin countries know the popular holiday as Carnival. No matter how you look at it, Mardi Gras is the day before Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. It is usually looked on as a time of celebration and revelry that occurs just before the Lenten season commences.
Mardi Gras Remembered
During the 80’s I resided in New Orleans and enjoyed every Carnival season, while I was there. Mardi Gras Day in the French Quarter was definitely a lot of fun, but celebrations occurred all over the metropolitan area. Except for the downtown madness, most of the celebration consisted of families coming out to view the parades. In fact, some of the best parades, such as Bacchus occurred at night on the weekends preceding the popular holiday. And of course the best way to view the festivities was with a group of friends, where you could form your own Krewe similar to the one pictured above.
Ash Wednesday In Old Mexico
The religious holiday of Ash Wednesday follows Mardi Gras. In many places, it is time of sober reflection and attending church services. The first carnival season that I ever experienced was on a Caribbean island located along the Yucatan coast of Mexico. I have put my rather bizarre experiences into a novella, titled Ash Wednesday In Old Mexico. Just click on the title and you will be redirected to the Amazon page, where it will be offered free for tomorrow, which is also Ash Wednesday.
I stole this picture from H. Koppdelaney’s Photostream fair and square. That is only because the photographer is generous enough to allow certain types of borrowing, as long as attribution is given to the photographic artist. For more wonderful images created by the German Buddhist, check out his website.
New Year’s Day In Northern New Mexico
New year’s day could not have been more generous for the start of 2013, for here on the western flanks of the Sangre de Christo Mountains she deposited over a foot of fresh powder. Skiers were extremely excited, as everybody else spent the day snuggled up to a warm fire admiring the glistening landscape.
This year Veteran’s Day falls on a Sunday. This is a good deal for Vets, for some businesses (such as restaurants) that offer free services – or gifts – on Veteran’s Day, may wait until Monday, while others will observe the 11th as the true holiday. Either way active and inactive servicemen can enjoy the best of both worlds and enjoy a free meal – or whatever – on two days instead of one. No matter what you choose to do on this national holiday, thanks for serving the country. Special thoughts go out to those who have risked (and sometimes lost) their lives in foreign conflicts. Today, we still have Afghanistan ongoing as a military conflict, while Iraq, which claimed over 4,000 American lives, has been complete and silent for almost a year. Hopefully, no new military venture surfaces in the near future, but the world is a dangerous place, so no telling what may happen.
And here is a solemn reminder – in the form of a color photograph – about how much grief and sadness a long war can bring down upon a nation. The picture is of a replica of the Washington Vietnam War Memorial, as it was displayed at Old Orchard Beach on Memorial Day, maybe ten years ago. The shadows and reflections were only partially visualized at the time the picture was shot, but they definitely give the photograph an eerie quality.