Pool Tournament in Kino Viejo

There’s a poolhall in Bahia Kino. The building is a somewhat open-air affair. By “open-air” I don’t mean it has no sides. Rather, in the tradition of buildings in hot, humid climates, its walls don’t quite reach the ceiling, allowing for air to circulate.

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There are nine pool tables, none of which match, ranging from ones that once may have been beautiful to table tops set on poured concrete legs.

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It’s a hangout for young and old men alike, with walls decorate with pool-hall art.       IMG_4497   At the entrance sits a man who checks out the racks of pool balls. When necessary, he can also repair the tables’ pockets.

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So, tournament time. I imagine the regulars were surprised when my fiend Lorela decided to take lessons in pool, and even more surprised the first time she entered the pool tournament.

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She played the other day.

A total of fourteen signed up for the tournament: thirteen men and Lorela. Surprisingly, they all seemed to welcome her participation.

IMG_4495                                  Serious concentration as Lorela shoots

The tournament began at 2:00, and Lorela said we had to be there on time, because unlike many other Mexican events, this one began pretty much en punto. On time. We arrived just before two and the practice was just winding up. Just after 2:00, the tournament began.

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Each participant was assigned a number, and numbers were randomly combined to choose who played one another. Lorela played the second game. And lost.

But then she played another game with another who had lost, and this time she won. She earned a round of applause from the men who’d grown to admire her.

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In the back of the poolhall, there were a few serious domino games going on.

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I didn’t stay long – not long enough to see the outcome. Lorela didn’t win, but she held her own. And I had a blast taking photos.

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Guest Blog Posting

My grand niece, all decked out.

My grand niece, all decked out.

I have never had a guest post anything on my blog site, but this was too good not to share.
It all began with this photo that I shared on Facebook. Jeff Humfeld of Kansas City wrote this when he saw it.

A friend of mine just posted a picture on Facebook of her grand niece all wrapped up with Christmas lights and it reminded me of the Christmas Eve that, thankfully, the Soviets didn’t attack from the North Atlantic.

I was stationed with the US Navy in Iceland at a Naval Air Base that tracked Soviet nuclear submarines as they passed out of the North Sea and into the Atlantic Ocean on their way to troll the East Coast of the United States. We were still in place, still on guard against the “Godless Soviets.”

Most of us had not been able to afford the leave time or the money to travel back to our home towns for Christmas so there were cookies, cakes and other holiday treats that we had received from home. In the gift package I had received from my sister was a set of Christmas lights shaped like icicles, that after two or three minutes would start flashing off and on in rotating patterns.

TV was limited to the Armed Forces channel with Roller Derby being about the best show. However, our barracks probably had several thousand dollars worth of stereo equipment. This being the case, most of our entertainment consisted of drinking beer from the beer machine, smoking hashish smuggled from mainland Europe, and sitting around listening to music. This Christmas Eve was of course a festive night with parties in a number of different rooms, some small groups and others larger groups. One of the larger parties was in the room of a sailor whose holiday package had included a bunch of the exotic entertainment commonly called LSD.

Although I had no desire to join in, one of my friends did want to go and visit with those who were enjoying their trip down the psychedelic path. We decide we wanted to give them a Christmas gift to remember. Did I mention I had received Christmas lights? We carefully wrapped the string of lights around my buddy Kim, attached an extension cord and then covered those lights with a sweater.

Timing our visit to when we knew the trip was well under way, Kim knocked on the door. When they let him in, he strolled into the middle of the darkened room and started chatting with a couple of the fellows in the room. After about a minute I plugged the lights into a socket in the hall. There was a very loud collective gasp that emanated from the room, followed by a very tense quiet; no one seemed to be able to exhale.

Kim continued to talk as if nothing had happened and slowly the sound of whimpers and nervous movements were heard from the room. Then . . . the lights started to flash on and off, in varying patterns of course. The wails and cries of dismay started to grow and were joined by what sounded like the gnashing of teeth until someone yelled out, “What the fuck is wrong with you, man?” It was at about this time Kim slowly turned, showing that the lights were on his back as well. He bid his adieu, closing the door on his way out, plunging the room into darkness and chaos.

It was not until years later that it occurred to me that this would have been an ideal time for those “Godless Soviets” to attack. Of course, it could be that we unwittingly helped out Military Intelligence with another of their LSD experiments on our troops.

Here’s wishing you a safe and healthy holiday season – and by the way, stick to the cookies.

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Weddings and Such

In the last several years, I’ve attended three wedding and one civil union. Nothing dull about any of them.

The first in this series was the wedding of my niece, Kelly, to Matt, who live in Las Vegas. Kelly had been attending law school and was graduating three years ago in May. Her family (parents and most of her ten brothers and sisters) flew out for the event, and I went up too.

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Her attitude was that since we were all going to be there, she and Matt might as well get married that same weekend.

So there was a graduation on Thursday followed by a wedding on Friday. And it was not your typical wedding.

Kelly, who is Korean, wore a fabulous pink strapless dress, knee-length, and Matt, who is anglo, wore nice pants and a coat. They were married under the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. By an Elvis impersonator.

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Next on the wedding agenda was the marriage of my friend Lupita to the man she’d been living with for nearly twenty years. The priest in Naco, Sonora, Mexico, was on a mission to get all those who were “living in sin” to get married, and he succeeded quite well. Seventeen couples married in one mass ceremony. It turned out I knew one of the other brides, too.

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Then, of course, was the civil union ceremony of my friend Mark to his partner Hywel. It was the first public civil union ceremony (that I know of) in Bisbee, shortly after the city legalized civil unions this spring.

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Now the most recent – the wedding of my niece Rachel to her partner Amer. Rachel is half African-American and half Korean and has the most beautiful skin tone, hair, eyes, and well, everything. Amer is Bosnian and quite pale in comparison to Rachel. A lovely match.

My brother-in-law with Rachel

My brother-in-law with Rachel

They were married outdoors in a garden setting just last Saturday. Because Rachel’s brothers and sisters are all adopted, as is she, and are of many ethnicities, it was a most colorful wedding. Probably one of the very best I have ever attended.

Amer sees his bride.

Amer sees his bride.

The female attendants.

The female attendants.

And the males.

And the males.

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Rachel was beautiful, as brides always are, but she was a true beauty. The wedding, followed by music, dance, food, and champagne made for a perfect evening.

The wedding party dances first.

The wedding party dances first.


I was invited to stand with the group of single women to catch the bouquet, but when I swore I stomp on it if it hit me, I was quickly disinvited.
After these last four weddings, I can only wonder what the next one will be!

Finding Spirit

According to William Powers, in his book “12 By 12,” kids today can identify around a thousand corporate logos, but most can’t identify ten native plants and animals in their area.

Whew.

The number of logos they can identify seemed high to me. A thousand! My initial reaction was, “There aren’t that many!”

But of course there are. And many more.

I wonder how many I could identify. Too many, most likely. But thankfully I can identify many, many native plants and animals.

Today, most kids can’t identify native plants and animals. They spend way too much of their time inside. Sleeping, eating, and TV. Computers and video games. School. Church if they do that.

Long ago, I don’t even remember when, I realized that the desert was my church. When I need to get close to whatever Spirit it is that I connect with, I go outside. I can find Her inside, too, but I believe Spirit lives outside.

One of the earliest deeply spiritual moments in my life was in 1977. I was standing at the rim of Canyon de Chelley in northern Arizona, and suddenly I was filled with, well, whatever it is.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t ever been to church. I had been raised attending church, celebrating Christmas and Easter. I’d attended summer church events and church camp. But what I liked most about church camp and summer events was being out of doors. That is where I found peace, where I found myself, and where I found the earliest stirrings of Spirit.

Then, that summer at Canyon de Chelley, I can’t even express what happened. I just felt deeply that there was a living Spirit in me. It emanated from the Earth and had nothing to do with the God I’d heard of my whole life. It stirred something in me, and that stirring has never gone away.

More recently, I had the experience of leaning out of a little boat, a panga, on a lagoon in central Baja California to stroke the back of a gray whale. Spirit was there again.

In fact, I felt it as soon as I saw my first whale breaching. I knew it was pure Goodness, pure Godliness, pure Spirit. Touching that whale, looking into her huge eye, moved me in a way nothing else ever has.

I met Spirit in Guatemala on a boat while crossing Lago Atitlan, and met Her again when hang gliding, jumping off a 7000 foot cliff in southern Arizona to circle with hawks.

Of course, it doesn’t take a whale or a hang glide to experience Spirit. She was there today as I sat on a sand bar and looked at the sea. In December, Spirit glimmered in the face of a dead sea turtle. The other day She was in a saguaro blossom.

All of my encounters with Spirit have been outside. It’s not that She won’t come inside. Of course She will. But Her home is in nature.

So. What are we letting happen to our children? When we confine them all day in classrooms, cut funds for field trips, and cut back recess time so kids can do better on mandatory testing, what are we doing to their psyches? To their spirits? How are we interfering with their spiritual development?

I believe in the separation of church and state. But Spirit is not church. She just IS. And She is earth, sea, and sky. She is nature. She is not in a corporate logo.

This is not something I can prove. I have no evidence. I have only the edge of a canyon, a dead sea turtle, and the eye of a whale to tell me it is true.

Whale mama and her baby, Guerro Nego, Baja California Sur.

Whale mama and her baby, Guerro Nego, Baja California Sur.

A Different Kind of 4th

I have been up in Tucson for several days, spending each night with a different friend.

On July 4 I left one friend’s house and landed at the next, Pam’s place, around 2:00. Pam and I ran an errand and then went to the newest Ethiopian restaurant in the city, Cafe Desta.

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Cafe Desta is at the five corners area just south of downtown, where 18th Street, Stone, and 6th Avenue all come together, clinging to the very south end of Stone.

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There were only two tables of customers when we entered, an Anglo couple and a group of five men from San Miguel, in central Mexico. At least three languages were happening in this tiny place! Because there are around ninety Ethiopian languages, two or three of them could have been used in addition to the Spanish and English.

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offers a variety of meat dishes as well as vegan dishes, and prices run from about $8 to $19.

We settled on the “combo for two” which gave us a choice of samples from any of the meat or vegan meals. We chose two vegan – spinach and red lentil, a cheese, and two meat – lamb and chicken. It also came with salad.

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The meal was served family style, which meant the five dishes and the salad were piled on a round Ethiopian bread, about 8″ in diameter, called injera. It is spongy and soft and is meant to be torn into pieces and used to scoop up the main dish. Each of us also got a basket of two pieces of injera.

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Each of the dishes we sampled was delicious. The cheese was light but tasty. The chicken was in a gentle curry and the lamb in a tomato base. The spinach had tomatoes, onions, garlic and spices, and the lentils had a berbere sauce – whatever that is.

We spent the next half hour tearing pieces of injera and scooping different flavors, sometimes using the cheese as a topping and sometimes scooping up the cheese alone.

Grabbing food with the injera was fun, but I was unclear how to approach the salad. The meal is not served with utensils – the injera is the utensil. So, how to eat the salad? It didn’t want it wrapped in the soft bread. I finally just dove in, picking up pieces of lettuce and tomato and eating them.

Pam and I and our server all agreed that the combo of five we had settled on was just right, a wonderful blending of flavors, and so beautifully colorful. And the benefit to eating in this way is it takes time to pick up the bread, tear off a piece, scoop up a mouthful of the dinner and finally get it to your mouth. Hard for even the most diligent to simply shovel food into his or her mouth. It is a slower, friendlier way to have a meal.

Although we didn’t indulge, there were espresso drinks and dessert. I think it would be a great stop for just the coffee and desert, but I’m sure that wonderful aroma that enveloped me when I opened the door would make it difficult not to first dive into one of the main dishes.

We finished, waddled out the door, and headed back to Pam’s place where we recovered for a few hours, and then we were out the door for another new experience: witnessing the nightly rush of bats leaving from below a bridge.

The bats at the 22nd and Pantano bridge are Mexican free-tailed bats, and although they weigh only about thirteen grams, they are considered medium-sized.

Under the Pantano Bridge

Under the Pantano Bridge – the bats hang in the small spaces between the spans of concrete.

Their bodies are about the size of smallish adult human thumb, but their wingspans are about ten inches. They can eat half their weight in insects each night.

This year there are an estimated 40,000 bats living under the Pantano Bridge.

The bats arrive here in April with the females already pregnant. They deliver later in the month or in early June. The babies will be adult sized and ready for the south migration when they are only three months old.

On this night, the babies were young enough that they “hung out” at the bridge while their moms went hunting.

Honest! There are a few bats in the sky around the big lights.

Honest! There are a few bats in the sky around the big lights.

It was getting pretty dark when we left, and we saw fireworks beginning to light up the sky. We got back to Pam’s and soon the A Mountain fireworks began, so we sat on the curb and watched the whole show.

A fabulous fourth of July, and different from any I have ever had!

Escaping the Heat

It was hot. The forecast said to expect 97 (35). We needed a diversion. So, off to Tucson, where the forecast said it would be 106 (41)!

No, of course we didn’t stay there, but we had to pass through the eastern edges of Tucson to get to our destination, Mt. Lemmon, high atop the Catalina Mountains overlooking the city. The forecast predicted a high there of about 77 (25). We took off around seven and it was already hot. First stop: recycling. We hauled all the things Bisbee doesn’t recycle to one of the spots in Tucson.  A minute later we were off to the second stop: Beyond Bread.

Always yummy!

Always yummy!

We had initially figured we’d have lunch on the mountain, but there had been stories of crowds of people on Mt. Lemmon cooling off, and the ensuing long lines at the few restaurants. So we brought our picnic lunch.

Amazingly, we left Beyond Bread and didn’t head across the street to Trader Joe’s. That may have been a first.

TJ right across the street and we didn't go!

TJ right across the street and we didn’t go!

As we headed up Houghton Road we talked about getting gas, but there was about a quarter of a tank left in the little Toyota Echo and we figured that would get us up and down the mountain easily.

Up we went, taking in all the scenery and views. Striated rock. Changing plant life, from mesquite and saguaro to tall, tall pines, fir, and spruce. Vistas that went on for a hundred miles.  It is like driving from northern Mexico to Canada in twenty-nine miles of steep, twisty road.

Conifers!

Conifers!

We passed campgrounds, trailheads, picnic areas, and overlooks. Some of the names were great. For example, there’s the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site. But underneath the name it says “Prison Camp.”

Then there’s the Seven Cataracts Vista. How in the world did it get that name? My thought was cataracts on the eyes, as I’ve had surgery on both eyes now. But one friend reminded me that it can also mean rushing water, or waterfall. That made more sense, of course. But there were no falls on this dry, dry day.

Hoodoo Vista. Thimble Peak Vista. Babad Do’ag Vista.

Then there are the trails. The most interesting name I ran across was the Phoneline Trail.

And the canyon names: Bird Canyon, Rattlesnake Canyon, Breakfast Canyon. Breakfast?

We made a stop at the visitor center about two-thirds of the way up. I had expected to pay for the visit, but the fee station was closed and the visitor center wasn’t collecting money, either.

Across from the visitor's center - more conifers! And cool, cool air.

Across from the visitor’s center – more conifers! And cool, cool air.

Once we made it to the top, we got out and walked a bit, visited the one store where I purchased some fabulous fudge, and we even managed to hit a yard sale. Yes, I bought something.

Beautiful ferns in front yard at the yard sale.

Beautiful ferns in front yard at the yard sale.

We hopped in the car, ready to ride some of the side roads, do a little exploring. But then I glanced at the gas gauge. We were a hair away from empty.

Empty? But we’d had nearly a quarter tank and had only driven about thirty-five miles since I’d last checked! But the miles were all uphill, and we were carrying three adults. I guess steep hills and a full load make a big difference to a little four-cylinder car!

So. Plans changed. There is no gas station in Summerhaven, the little community atop Mt. Lemmon. Why wasn’t there anyone like the guy I saw in the Baja, the guy on a lonely stretch of highway who had a 55 gallon barrel full of gasoline to sell?

Instead of wandering all the side roads as planned, we decided to head downhill to a picnic spot. We stopped at the Loma Linda picnic grounds with views to the north side of the mountain. We had a lovely picnic and I experienced something I hadn’t felt in quite some time. I was chilly! What a treat! We ate slowly and hung out in the cool for an hour or so, then headed back down the mountain.

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Remnants of the huge fire on Mt. Lemmon several years back.

Remnants of the huge fire on Mt. Lemmon several years back.

This is where I explain why there aren’t a lot more photos. Simply put, I didn’t want to stop and start the car too many times. The Get Gas! warning light was flashing. Seemed smarter to keep heading down the mountain.

Highway view

Highway view

All kinds of activities available on the mountain.

All kinds of activities available on the mountain.

Down General Hitchcock Highway. Out of the pines. Into the piñon. Back to the mesquite and saguaro. Back to the heat.

We made it to a gas station, thankfully. We’d been discussing whose AAA card to use. I, as the driver, was wondering where in the world I would pull off if we did, in fact, run out of gas.

When we got gas, we found there had still been approximately half a gallon left in the tank.

Had the gauge lied?

And what about the flashing red light that warns the driver of an impending empty tank disaster?

Apparently, both the gauge and the warning light had overreacted a little bit. We could have done the side roads.

Ah, well. Next time. We’re sure to have another hot day!

FOOTNOTE: A fire has begun overnight part way up Mt. Lemmon, near the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site. Thankfully, this one will not destroy Summerhaven as the big one did in 2007.

Bisbee Pride

The Gay Pride movement began in late 1969 in response to the Stonewall raid (on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in NY). A march was scheduled in New York City for June of 1970. Since then, the movement has grown and now Gay Pride events happen around the world, from Aathus (Denmark) to Zürich, throughout the summer months. In Bisbee, this was Gay Pride Weekend.

People come to Bisbee from around southern Arizona each year for this celebration. The hotels fill up, the restaurants and bars serve up plenty of food and drinks, there are booths in Grassy Park, and there are lots of special events.

Events began Friday. There was a golf tournament in the morning, booths opened in the park, and that night there was the now famous (infamous?) lingerie pub crawl. No photos of that, folks! There was also an outdoor dance.

And on Friday evening, there was one special unscheduled event. An early Monsoon Season show! There was an afternoon buildup of clouds that darkened and soon tossed a little rain on Bisbee. This was followed by a beautiful rainbow over town – the Gay Pride rainbow, perhaps? (photo by Sharon Lee of Bisbee, used by permission)

The rainbow came to Pride Weekend. Thanks to

The rainbow came to Pride Weekend. Thanks to Sharon Lee for the photo!

On Saturday there was a parade, Bisbee’s first Gay Pride parade – short, but fun. Gay bikers led the parade and were followed by a convertible carrying Grand Marshalls Mayor Adriana Badal and Councilman Gene Connors. Gene is the man who brought the civil union law to the City Council.

Gay bikers lead the parade

Gay bikers lead the parade

Mayor Adriana Badal, Grand Marshall, in the back of the convertible

Mayor Adriana Badal, Grand Marshall, in the back of the convertible

Gene Connors, Mayor Badal, and the others who voted for it may soon be facing a recall election, though it could be difficult here for the folks beginning the recall drive to get enough signatures to have any success.

Below you can see some of Bisbee’s Art Cars.. First is Bisbee Van by Kate Pearson, then the J Gurl by Diane Bombshelter, and third is Hillary Car by Gretchen Baer.

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A small peace contingent joined in the parade.

Peace and Equality

Peace and Equality

They carried the gay pride peace flag and each in the group wore an “I am Bradley Manning” flyer on her back.

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Bradley Manning is the (gay) US Army Private accused of passing classified information to the WikiLeaks website. His supporters also had contingents in parades in New York, San Francisco, and other cities. Bisbee is likely one of the smallest place to hold a Gay Pride parade and have a group of Manning supporters.

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On Saturday afternoon there were more events – a pool party, a Drag Divas event, a movie (Some Like it Hot) and an evening cocktail/music party that went on until midnight.

Grassy Park was filled with booths and even had a beer garden!

Grassy Park was filled with booths and even had a beer garden!

Sunday included some special parties at local restaurants and another pool party.

The favorites, as usual, were the Grand Canyon Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

One of the Sisters

One of the Sisters

Me with one of the Sisters

Me with one of the Sisters

Several of the Grand Canyon Ladies of Perpetual Indulgence - with thanks to Lucy St. John of Bisbee for the photo!

Several of the Grand Canyon Ladies of Perpetual Indulgence – with thanks to Lucy St. John of Bisbee for the photo!

In all, it was another wild, wacky, and fun-filled weekend in Old Bisbee!

St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic

Yesterday I took the two-hour trip to Nogales AZ to visit and help at the St. Andrew’s (Episcopal Church) Children’s Clinic. I rode along with my friend and mentor Cheyenne MacMasters who has been offering her Reiki skills at the clinic, held the first Thursday of the month, for about ten years.
We made it through Sierra Vista and Huachuca City, then into the soft beauty of the wine country area of Santa Cruz County. Through Sonoita and Patagonia, then into Nogales, arriving just in time.
We set up the Reiki table under a little portable gazebo in the peace garden. A perfect place to do our healing energy work.

Reiki gazebo in the peace garden

Reiki gazebo in the peace garden

Then we had a quick sampling of cake and coffee offered to the volunteers and returned to begin Reiki on the children and a few of the mothers, too.
This clinic offers free medical services to severely disabled children of extreme poverty in Sonora Mexico. Though many come from the sister city of Nogales, Sonora, many ride busses for hours to attend the monthly clinic. Our first customers boarded the bus at 3 am in Caborca in order to be at the clinic by 9:00.
This clinic was founded in 1973 by a mother in Nogales, Sonora, who had a disabled son and wanted to work with other mothers of disabled children. Together they found doctors and services in the US and convinced the specialists to come see their children.
The clinic soon outgrew the woman’s modest house and the doctors had the idea of moving it to the US. It took a lot of work with US Customs, because many recipients and their families are ineligible to cross into the US. Today, though, some Customs agents donate their time to ensure the families get the proper documentation to cross for medical purposes, facilitate their crossing, and help families board the free shuttles to the clinic.

One of the free shuttles, in this case, a Nogales school bus.

One of the free shuttles, in this case, a Nogales school bus.

The clinic is now a 501c3 charitable organization based in St. Andrew’s Church. Up to 250 children are seen in one day. One of the volunteers described the situation as “controlled chaos” and boy is she right!
Every square inch of the church is used – meeting rooms, hallways, the sanctuary, and even the pastor’s office and large closets. The pastor’s office is used as the room where blood is drawn, and just outside the room’s door sits the secretary, amazingly composed and functioning amidst the noise and confusion. The large office supply room was covered with volunteers sitting on the floor, filling bags with nutritional supplements for children with disabilities that don’t allow them to receive proper nutrition from what the eat, and for those who can only drink, not chew.

Cheyenne provides Reiki to a young patient.

Cheyenne provides Reiki to a young patient.

The vision clinic provides vision screening and free glasses (used children’s glasses are much needed!). Children with complex eye issues that need surgery, such as those needing corneal transplants, red sent out of state for complimentary surgery. The hearing clinic provides testing and free hearing aids (used hearing aids also needed).

The hearing clinic, donated by the Lions Club.

The hearing clinic, donated by the Lions Club.

The clinic has a working relationship with a major hospital in Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora, and once a year the doctors there provide free cleft palate surgeries for between 30 and 35 children a year. The clinic provides transportation and temporary housing.
The clinic sees children with spina bifida, cerebral palsey, and Rett Syndrome. There is no space here to discuss this syndrome – look it up. It is pretty awful. Just know it strikes females, leaving them unable to communicate, walk, or defend themselves in any way. Ironically, they are also usually quite beautiful, and they often become easy targets for rapists.
More, more, and more they do – provide amputations, prosthetics, crutches, and wheelchairs. Physical therapy is offered, and the therapists teach family members how to provide a level of therapy in the home.
I was astounded and how much gets done. I was honored to spend some time and provide Reiki to help the children and their mothers distress and relax.

Girl Scouts serve cookies to clients and their families.

Girl Scouts serve cookies to clients and their families.

I thank Cheyenne for taking me along, and I suspect I have now found something to do each first Thursday of the month.
Visit http://www.standrewsclinic.org for additional information, to schedule a visit, or to make a donation.

Bisbee’s First Civil Union

Well over one hundred people gathered at Central School Project (a cooperatively run art center) for Bisbee’s first civil union. It was almost legal.
When Bisbee passed the civil union law about two months ago, my friend Mark and his partner Hywel set the date: May 24th. Unfortunately, there were a few glitches that ran against state law, so a new civil union law had to be written and introduced. The new one will be passed at the City Council meeting on June 4.
But the date was set, and the couple plans to move to Vermont soon (where they can legally marry), so they went ahead with the celebration with their friends here in Bisbee.
The ceremony was held on the main floor in the broad hallway. There was live music before and during the ceremony and KBRP’s own Ryan Bruce as DJ for dance music afterwards. (KBRP is Bisbee’s low power community radio station, and Ryan is the director).

The "before" music

The “before” music

Ryan is ready to DJ.

Ryan is ready to DJ.

Ribbons and bows decorated the stairway newels, and there were simply scads of flowers.

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Alison, our local videographer, readies her equipment.

Alison, our local videographer, readies her equipment.

The “before” music stopped, and the crowd silenced. The candles at the altar (nicely decorated folding tables). The woman officiating the service asked us to rise.

Friends fill the hall.

Friends fill the hall.

Candles are lit.

Candles are lit.

Down the stairs, one at a time, attendees and the two grooms came, and they proceeded slowly up the aisle. Three groomsmen and three groomswomen. A flower girl, and a flower boy.

First groomswoman.

First groomswoman.

Flower boy.

Flower boy.

Flower girl.

Flower girl.

Mark, his hair and eyebrows freshly blue (you’ve gotta know Mark) for the ceremony, walked in near the beginning, and Hywel came last, carrying a bouquet.

Mark

Mark

Hywel

Hywel

The ceremony was short and so very sweet.

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The officiator spoke first and then Gene Connors, the man who proposed the civil union law, spoke. He read a piece of the law, after which everyone cheered, and then he read a poem. Everyone cheered again. Yes, there was cheering at this union.

Gene speaks.

Gene speaks.

Hywel spoke his vows. Mark couldn’t remember his – he was too nervous and excited. They then each repeated official vows and exchanged rings. The officiator then introduced the husbands and they hugged and kissed to clapping, cheering, and more than a few tears.

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The recessional, with Mark and Hywel leaving last, was “The Rainbow Connection” originally sung by Kermit the Frog (again, you just gotta know Mark and Hywel). It was absolutely the right song for the ceremony, and the crowd joined in the singing.
Then, of course, the food (potluck), cutting of the cake, and the bouquet tossing. The first dance.

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Part of what was wonderful to me was the number of children there. How beautiful that so many children were able to see love being celebrated, to join happily in that love, and to know that it is good and right to celebrate that love publicly.

About to have that first dance.

About to have that first dance.

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Oh, Bisbee. What a wonderful place to live, and such a wonderful time to live it.

The day I died

He hugged me hard and long.

Mind you, this was a married man. So what prompted this somewhat reserved amigo to hug me like that? Well, it’s because I wasn’t dead.

I guess I should back up. Just over two weeks ago, my friend here at Islandia had to put her dog down. Two days later, I had to do the same, and I told her about it and we commiserated via email.

Now, when I’m in Kino, this friend and I walk each morning and on the walk we stop for a cafecita at La Ramada, a little open-air restaurant operated by my amigo Roberto. I know the whole family and part of the extended family as well.

My walking partner speaks no Spanish and Roberto speaks almost no English. Hence the problem. Mi amiga told Roberto that my dog had died. What he got was “Emilie” and “died.” He teared up.

Mi amiga thought that was a bit odd but having no way to communicate, she let it pass.

The following morning, mi amiga did her morning walk and ended up as usual at Roberto’s for her coffee. He came to her, mentioned my name, and began to weep.

This time there was a bilingual person available, and this person explained that he was really, really upset because Emilie had died.

I died? And I didn’t even know it.

She then clarified that it was my dog that had died, and he ran into his house and soon the whole family spilled out, smiling, laughing and crying for joy.

And when I showed up this morning at La Ramada, Robert hugged me hard and long, expressing over and over how glad he was I had not died.

Postscript: I wandered by there this afternoon, too, and one of Roberto’s daughters grabbed me and told me how very glad she was that I was alive. I expect I will go through this several more times as I run into the other family members.

Ah, it is so nice to be loved!