Money

The Money Goddess seems to be quite displeased with me. Wait. It cannot be a goddess. A woman would never do this to me. It must be the God of money.

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Does this guy even look friendly?

Two things happened. 

First, six weeks ago I applied for a line of credit loan at Bank of America for the purpose of replacing damaged exterior wood on both my house and guest house and repainting the houses. All was moving, slowly, snail’s pace, but each week I got a happy call saying my credit was good, this or that had been received, etc.

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Then on Monday I got told I couldn’t have the loan. And can you guess why? Because my house needs painting! And they will be happy to loan me the money (to paint it) once it’s painted!

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The old paint, above, and below, the color I’d chosen for my house.

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JEEZE!  Hello? That’s what the loan is for! And I had explained it all in detail when I applied for the friggin’ loan.

Strike one against banks in general and B of A in particular. Actually, after the financial meltdown, this is probably about strike twelve. Their ONLY saving grace right now is my new international credit card which I can use in Mexico and not have to pay the blasted 3% surcharge for being out of country.

Then today, more.

As background, you must know I started an account with B of A about thirty-five years ago. I got a mortgage through them, and when I bought my current house eleven years ago, I got its mortgage there. I also have an almost-paid-off car loan there. 

They have had a local branch, and for years there were even two local branches. In recent, cash-machine years, I’ve also been able to access my cash at two different location. That all changed a few months ago when B of A sold their local bank to Washington Federal. Now, to do business directly with my mortgage-holding bank or even get to one of their cash machines, I must drive for forty-five minutes. To maintain a local presence, I opened an account at National Bank which is much closer to me than Washington Federal, but to keep certain banking privileges, I have my social security check direct deposited at B of A.

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Just over a week ago I set up an on-line bill pay to move money from the now 45-minute-away B of A to National Bank, just up the road. I figured that would save me the drive, and each month I could just move money to my local bank.

I set up the account because I need the money now to pay a few bills, get some gas, and perhaps, as a bonus,  eat. There is barely a cent in my NBA account. Well, it took SIX days for the money to leave B of A, and it went … nowhere. It never arrived. Say, what??? Where in the world is my money?

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What I wanted (folks, I actually had to borrow some cash to take this photo).

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Where my money seems to have gone.

 

Meeting today with NBA and I found out they had switched bill-pay servers over the weekend, so there was no server with which to move my money. The same money B of A (finally) sent off on Monday. 

My money is in the ozone. No one appears to be quite certain what ozone it’s in, either. Where does money go when it is nowhere? Is there a secret nowhere zone out beyond Jupiter???

So, long call to B of A in the town forty-five minutes away – and I had just LEFT that town before my little conference at my local NBA! 

At the end of the lengthy phone call, which followed my lengthy meeting at NBA, I finally had spoken to someone who thinks he may, yes may, have accessed the correct ozone. I might be able to have my money in a few days.

May the Goddess of money make this work!

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Should have worked with her!

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Chicharones

Some friends invited me and my partner to accompany them to visit a family in Sonora on Sunday. The friends don’t live very far across the line but have a rancho further south, which was the final destination.

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I thought we were just going to visit the ranch for awhile, but boy was I wrong. The purpose of the visit was to make chicharones and have lunch.

Raul has a collection of skulls.

Raul has a collection of skulls.

Chicharones are a fried pork rind. What we had was pork skin with chunks of meat attached to some of the pieces. Until last year, I had been a quasi-vegetarian. Chicharones were not on my list of favorite foods.

First, Maggie got out her huge copper pot. I’d seen pots like it for sale along the road in Sonora but never realized what they were for. Raul made the fire, and Maggie set the pot on top of the fire, adding a few scoops of water from the water barrel. The scoop was an old plastic Folgers container.

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Then the two of them began dumping the pork rinds into the pot. After about four bags of rinds, I thought they’d put them all in, but no. They added about the same amount again. They must have dumped about twenty-five to thirty pounds of pork into the copper pot.

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Then it all began to boil, and Raul started stirring the meat. Stirring thirty pounds of meat takes a large instrument! In this case, it was a paddle-shaped piece of wood about four feet long and four inches wide. All the men took turns stirring the pot. Even Em gave it a shot, but she soon settled in helping Maggie peel the garlic.

Alfredo the chicharonero.

Alfredo the chicharonero (chicharone maker).

Raul checks out the garlic as Em and Maggie peel away.

Raul checks out the garlic as Em and Maggie peel away.

While the men stirred the meat, we women-folk wandered about visiting the horse, Canela, and the two calves. Both calves were only a few months old, and the male was striking, with a heart-shaped white spot on his forehead.

Espiritu (Spirit) has a heart on his forehead.

Espiritu (Spirit) has a heart on his forehead.

Soon the water had boiled away, and the chicharones were cooking in their own fat. Maggie added jalapeños and garlic and a generous amount of salt. The chicharones cooked and the men stirred for several hours.

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Finally, they were done!

 

Maggie scooped pots full of chicharones and drained them in a colander. She must have ended up with a few gallons of pork fat.

Maggie is pressing the excess oil out of the meat.

Maggie is pressing the excess oil out of the meat.

Out came the tortillas, the fresh salsa cruda, some stuffed poblano chiles, beer, and soda. We dove in.

No photo of the burritos we made because I was too busy eating!

Beautiful ending to a beautiful day.

Beautiful ending to a beautiful day.

Bisbee Pride

Bisbee’s Gay Pride Weekend is here again. The day started off with a parade, and somehow I managed to end up in it. That wasn’t what I’d planned. I just wanted some photos but got sucked in to the festivities. I walked with my partner, and a group of gay men cheered us for being straight and still being in the parade.

Crowds lined the street downtown.

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The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were here again.

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A fabulous bus from the Burning Man festival was in the parade, too, carrying some wonderfully dressed folks.

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Two women painted their breasts in the rainbow colors and proudly walked the parade route.

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And there were even gay zombies.

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Ah, Bisbee!

 

Pearls

I read today about pearls. Basically, when something gets inside an oyster shell, be it a  grain of sand or some very tiny ocean resident, the intruder makes the oyster uncomfortable, so it responds.

Now we get technical. An oyster has an organ called a mantle, and it produces a substance called nacre. This nacre lines the inside of the shell, making it smooth and comfortable for the oyster.

However, an intruder can make our little oyster uncomfortable, so the mantle gets busy and produces more nacre and covers up the sand or shrimp or whatever it is that got inside the oyster’s shell.  

More and more layers of nacre are produced as an oyster grows, so once a little irritant has been covered with nacre, it will receive more and more layers, thus forming a beautiful pearl.

The point of this, for me, is that’s what life is: irritants that can lead us to create change, and that can result in something positive. Surely not always, but when we’re irritated, we try to a) cover it up, b) get rid of the irritant, c) find a constructive way to deal with it, or d) flee.   

Covering it up doesn’t work. Drugs and alcohol are common masks, and sometimes depression is a mask that covers an irritant. If the irritant is a cold, we might take Vitamin C or cold medicine to get rid of it. If the irritant is something like a whiny two-year-old, getting rid of it is not an option, so it’s a good idea to find a constructive way to deal with the child.

The fourth choice is to flee. I don’t mean all the way to Zimbabwe, necessarily, though if I had the money and felt the need to flee, I just might head there. There are simpler, more affordable methods of fleeing. Consider the following, all positive methods of flight:

A walk at dawn. The world looks different at dawn than during the day. The colors, the sounds, and even the energy of the earth at dawn are more gentle. It can be a brisk walk, a meandering stroll, or a walk with the dog (unless that’s the irritant). Walking at dawn has been a wonderful way to give me an attitude adjustment when I’ve needed one.

A good book. Some would say that reading is a form of covering up an irritant, and I can’t disagree. However, it is also a form of fleeing. Books can take you places you may never go. I used to tell my students that books could take them anywhere, and at the end of the semester I always encouraged them to read a book and go somewhere they’d never been. At the beginning of one spring semester, a student I’d had the previous fall came up to me as I walked across campus. He said, “Guess what? I went to Alaska over winter break!” I was glad for him but said that probably had been a pretty cold time to go to Alaska. He grinned and said, “In a book, Miss. I went in a book!” He’d fled the desert for Alaska and loved the trip.

Lunch with a friend. You don’t necessarily have to go out for lunch, though there is something delightful about getting together with a friend in a little cafe or a restaurant you’ve never been to before. But you can also invite a friend over for lunch or arrange a simple potluck lunch with a few friends. If you invite someone over, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A large salad topped with tuna or chicken is a wonderful meal. Or grill some veggies and a piece of salmon. If it’s winter, consider a pot of soup.

Have some more money? Get a massage. Spring for an extra half hour and spend ninety minutes “elsewhere.”

Museums. No matter where you live, there has to be a museum. I live in a town of sevenhundred, so although there isn’t one here, there is one in Bisbee, a fifteen minute drive from me. Or, I can walk six blocks and be at a little museum in Mexico. 

Art. If you’re feeling creative, inspired, or simply brave, create some art. If you’re not up for that, visit a few art galleries. If you’re near a university there are likely several on campus. When I’m in Tucson, one of my very favorite things to do is visit The Center for Creative Photography on the U of A campus. There’s also a gallery downtown called the Etherton Gallery that has wonderful exhibits. Both are free, and fleeing to either one can cure almost any bad mood, guaranteed.

There are many more ways to flee. Rivers, lakes, oceans – being by water can sooth away almost any kind of irritant. Simply taking time to watch the sunset can do it, too.

Next time life is irritating you, don’t cover it up and don’t think you have to get rid of the irritant. Consider a creative approach to solving the situation, or simply flee. Create the pearl.

Pen to Paper

Pen to paper. Pen to paper. Time to write three pages.

I am attempting to do what Julia Cameron calls the “Morning Pages.” That means I am supposed to get up and put pen to paper and write three pages, and do it before I do anything else. Even before coffee. Like that’s gonna happen.

 

My morning coffee is a must.

My morning coffee is a must.

Although morning is the best time for me to write (best time to do just about anything, actually), I find it hard. I have been in this rut, feeling like I have nothing to say.

People have said I should reflect on one of my dreams. I don’t dream. Well, that’s not true. We all dream. But I rarely remember my dreams. Maybe once or twice a year I can wake up and recall a fleeting piece of one of my dreams. It’s about once every year and a half that I can actually remember a whole dream. So writing about dreams is out.

The weather is nice these days, so I can go outside to write. I didn’t do that this morning and have regretted it. On the other hand, how can I go sit outside to write when the birds are out there begging to have the feeder filled? Does that make two things I have do do (coffee and birds) before I start on my Morning Pages?

 

Enjoying breakfast.

Enjoying breakfast.

And of course I have to refresh their water.

And of course I have to refresh their water.

So that makes three things to do if I count food and water as separate items. Then I will feel badly that the dog is inside, so I’ll go get her, leash her up, and hook her to my chair. Four things to do.

Chloe enjoying the cool morning patio.

Chloe enjoying the cool morning patio.

I am not sure what the answer is. I only know it’s time for me to kick-start my writing again. I still feel as though I have “nothing to say,”but forcing myself to sit and write each day may uncover something I have forgotten, repressed, or simply ignored.

Fingers are crossed that this works.