First Seminar Day

The central purpose of our visit to Arizona is to attend a seminar at an organization called Matson Money. The goal is to align our financial goals with our life goals. The first day has been phenomenal. Although a lot of work. Don’t really have a lot to pass on now as Tina and I have a bunch of homework to do before an early start tomorrow. However, a couple photos:

Tina with Rob Lowe who is also attending.

Me with our coach for the seminar, Greg. We are truly blessed to have him.

We’re Off

Uber was at our house as scheduled. Typical for Bill we are early at the airport. This was partly due to a really fast Uber driver.

We really are not as frightened as we look. This is the same backdrop that Bob Baker and I used when we went to Ireland. Could become a tradition.

Made to Scottsdale and to the hotel (marginal hotel, sometimes booking on line has its limitations). 64 degrees F seems like a nice spring day in New England but probably cold to the natives. Looking forward to the seminar with Greg H, touring Taliesin West, seeing cousin Pat and hiking in Sedona.

Met up with Greg for dinner in Old Town Scottsdale. Went to a great BBQ place then walked around Old Town.

Thoughtful Moment

Recently we learned that our long term neighbor had passed away. She was one of the originals in the neighborhood. She was widowed by the time we moved in. She was a retired kindergarten teacher, a dosen’t at the Wadsworth Athenaeum, an avid world traveler and active with her church, Church of Christ Scientist. She was physically active and still drove her red Volvo. She was an avid reader and continually expanded her knowledge.

She was one of the most beloved individuals I have known. Whenever Tina and I took her someplace there would be someone recognizing her fondly, usually from the time she was a teacher. One time Tina and I took her to see Jim perform in a school play. A couple from Chicago were thrilled to see her as she was their son’s teacher from some twenty years earlier. This was a common occurrence.

She passed in a Church of Christ Scientist facility in Boston. A friend who had seen her hours before she passed said that she had no clue that she was near the end. She was cheerful, alert and sharp as ever. When I heard that she had passed, I came very close to making a judgement regarding her eschewing modern medicine due to her faith. How could I considering the long and active life she lived. Did I say how old she was? No, and neither would she. However, I do have a clue. Several years ago we celebrated another neighbor’s 90th birthday. She was several years older than he. She was a very private person in many ways and would not discuss her faith or private life. Because she was so private, I am not using her name in this blog.

One cannot be a neighbor for so long and not have an issue. She and I had an issue with a tree on her property that leaned over my house. She was famous for not wanting to take down trees. The dialogue went on for years. Our tree guy would say that the tree should come down. Her tree guy would say that it was OK. Other neighbors (not prompted by me) would point out the dead tree. I finally named the tree “Elvis”. When she asked why, I said that it was deader than Elvis Presley. She finally hired an arborist to take the tree down. Their equipment broke down as they started. She had the tree successfully removed a couple years later. It never fell on my house.

I will from time to time pray for those in my life that have passed. Remembering Psalm 23, I will hope that they dwell in the house of the Lord. 23 is meaningful to me because it is inscribed on the back of my parents stone in Washington. In her case the preceding lines also apply. Surely goodness and mercy followed her all the days of her life and she dwells in the house of the Lord forever.

Off to Arizona

We will be leaving in the morning for Arizona. A flurry of packing and last minute details that seem so much greater in significance than they really are.

To Uber or not to Uber, that is the question. To Uber gets the nod. I just hope there is one in the morning. We may reserve one.

Bills rule for packing: don’t worry if you forget something, that’s what credit cards are for.

Arizona

Tina and I have planned a trip to Arizona. We will be spending a few days in Scottsdale at a seminar. We are planning to visit my cousin Pat then travel to Sedona for a couple days. A short trip but it should be a good break from the cold of New England. However, the weather has been unseasonably warm.

Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead – Really?

We are in San Antonio for the start of the Mexican celebration of “Dia de Muertos” the “Day of the Dead”. This is a big deal here. It is celebrated from October 31 to November 2. I had a discussion with a gal near where we went for dinner. She explained the celebration. It is to celebrate the life of those that have passed, something that I could understand and truly appreciate. However, the motif of the celebration is decorated skeletons. That is kind of creepy. The date coincides with Halloween, which has evolved to be a big celebration. My puzzlement over this phenomenon is not to be explored here. It also coincides with the celebration of All Saints Day and All Souls Day in the Catholic and Anglican religions. I am reminded of this by a fellow blogger.

I was nearly caught by one of them.

There are also elaborate shrines erected for some. This one was for Emma Koehler, the wife of the founder of the Pearl Brewing Company, the only brewery that stayed in operation during prohibition. They brewed non alcoholic beer.

There is also a special pastry that is made only this time of year, “Pan de Muerto”, “Dead Bread”. Sounds yummy – NOT! It probably tastes good, I may try some tomorrow and update this blog. Pan de Muerto has pieces of dough on the top of the bun to represent bones.

I did try one and it actually does taste good. It reminds me a bit of one of my favorites, “Hot Cross Buns” at Easter.

So, I like the idea of the celebration but I can do without the skeletons.

Met this local gal, she’s kind of cold

Libraries and Barbeque +

This post will lack deep thoughts and inspiration. But, I will include some photos. This may be a refreshing change

In Dallas, as an afterthought, went to the George W Bush Library. It proved to be a fun experience. We got a good, yet sanitized, look at the second President Bush’s presidency. A look at the times as well as the policies and challenges. And, we got our pictures taken at his desk in the reproduction of the Oval Office.

President Tina and her Sketchy VP

The Bush Library was so much fun that we went to the LBJ Library when we got to Austin. We had a special treat there as there was an exhibit dedicated to Motown Records. Very interactive and fun.

In the LBJ Library you cannot sit behind his desk in the Oval Office. For some reason it is pointed out several times during the narration that this Oval Office is 1/8 smaller than the original. I didn’t really see a difference.

The library is great although sanitized. I have always taken the position that although JFK got the Lion’s share of credit for civil rights legislation, it was LBJ that made it happen.

Now on to BBQ. I should change the title of this blog to “Eating across Texas”. The BBQ has been great but the breakfasts have been stellar. We had BBQ at the legendary Lockhart Smoke House in Dallas. And, would you believe? we got into Franklin’s in Austin. At Franklin’s we were told that they were out of sausage when we ordered, settled on a pound of brisket with all the sides. We were eating after the closing time and a staff member said that they had extra sausage. We took a free link. The four people next to us had a pound of brisket, a pound of turkey and it looked like two pounds of pulled pork. They took four links. Wow! Well, our assessment was that Lockhart’s was a winner.

The best meals we had in Texas has been breakfast.

We had a great breakfast with my High School friend, Sam and his wife Eileen.

The next day we made it to Waco to have a great breakfast at the Magnolia Table. Anyone who watches “Fixer Upper” knows about this place. We were really fortunate that we arrived early and got a table. When we left there was a long line.

While in Waco we did a tour. Again, only of interest to those that follow “Fixer Upper” and the associated Chip and Johanna Gaines. For those that follow, do you recognize the fellow in the center?

In Austin we went to a place that had brunch with Jazz.

And, yes, with a nod to Rome we had Aperol Spritzers. I am the one going nuts over variations on Eggs Benedict. With a biscuit in Waco and Cuban in Austin.

Does anyone care at all what we are eating? I truly doubt it. But, I have noticed that the thing to do is to photograph food.

Sam

In Dallas we visited a friend from High School, Sam. I had not seen him for 54 years. Unbelievable visit. It was like we were picking up a conversation from 54 years ago. Sam and I had very different upbringings. We were friends at NMMI. Then lead very different lives. But, we reconnected and remain friends. Meet Sam with his lovely wife, Eileen, was comfortable. The four of us really clicked.

Although Sam and I took divergent paths in life, we have a number of similarities. Neither of us had a completely easy life without challenges, we both returned to our Christian roots, we both sought education (Sam got a PhD so he is much more driven than I), and we both were able to find and marry darned great gals.

Is there something deep to be learned from this reunion? I have been trying to come up with something. The only one is to cherish friendships. They are true treasures.

No photos, what happened??? We either had a collective senior moment or photos were not meant to happen. Or, perhaps this is the take away from the reunion, “expect more senior moments”.

Big “D”

First day in Dallas. The high point of the day is a low point in history. We visited the Sixth Floor Museum. This is the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald positioned himself to assassinate JFK. The museum is very well done and well worth a visit.

As it was in 1963

I believe that most of us who were alive on November 22, 1963 remember that infamous day. Like Pearl Harbor for our parents and 911 for us, we remember where we were and what we were doing on days if national tragedy. I was a sophomore at NMMI. When we were told the news of JFK’s assassination, we were dismissed to our quarters. I recall being with a silent group of cadets setting on the floor. My back was against my closet door and I was thinking that this might be the end.