Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How Does It Feel?

Mt. Lemmon Money Shot from the West
I was able to have four days off as part of MLK Holiday, so one day on Friday to drive down from the Rez to Dog Mtn, Saturday to run errands, visits with friends, check on the house - Sunday to ride with Le Tigre, my old college chum, and personal curator and librarian for a very wealthy collector (who shall remain un-named) and then Monday to drive back up into the High Country.

The difference between the Navajo Nation and Anglo Arizona starts to show up as you drive down in Show Low, AZ - Jaguars, mes amis.  Show Low is a place where wealthy folks have built homes (maybe a second or third) and automobiles which serve no other purpose than to impress upon you or I, how much money we don't have that sure came in loud and clear as I drove through, stopped to fill the tank, pee, eat a cheese burger at McD's.

Where I live, it is expensive, cars are beat up, and cars are the difference between having a decent job, getting to work, and getting food and things to survive in the mountains.  In the other Mountain Town, cars are a sign of disposable wealth.  A convertible Jag or Audi for a quick dash to the espresso bar.

I'm just saying that the Wealthy, the 1 per cent - sure got a lot richer.  This is very evident in Tucson and the surrounding out-skirts.  Seems like they got richer off of us fighting a few wars, extracting our wealth (banks targeting spouses of veterans, knowing that on their return from deployments, soldiers would find no work) fuck they even (in Arizona anyway) changed the bankruptcy laws to protect themselves from all the financial woes we would have.

People that have to live and work, even in these small mountain towns, don't have much income, so their trucks are older, rusted, and besides being the main tool to produce income, are what get you to the store for food and supplies.  Like the Navajo, what little money left goes for fuel

Only the wealthy can afford to live up here, not work, and have a car for the sake of it being an errand to the malt shop mode of transportation.

So back in Tucson/Marana/Oro Valley - business as usual - over-building of homes aimed at the entitlement-minded retired wealthy snowbirds.

Le Tigre and I went out for a ride, and I just have to tell you that it was busy, bumper-to-bumper traffic the likes I have never seen.  I have not lived in the Tucson area since 2010 - and I have to say in only a few years thing have really built up.  In about 12 years since we bought our place in Dog Mtn - it has gone from almost no traffic, to uncontrollable congestion - and the only cure is more construction to build roads - which slows the pace of everywhere you need to go to a stand-still.

Oracle Rd this time was deafening.  Just so much traffic.  Used to be fair amount of traffic as it was primarily local people (ranchers) and blue collar types coming in from the smaller mining towns on the weekends.  But mega-planned retirement communities are now up, and amid the local trailer trash - wealthy retirees with lots of disposable cash ride around in their Land Yachts.  They have a disdain for cyclist - that's why we have to stick together!

On the West side of the Catalinas, is Catalina State Park - mountains and desert.  Pretty peaceful and clean and I'm glad it's there.  Tucson area is growing so much!  People have to pay big money to see these mountains from their new homes.  But I've known them from years - and miles on the bike, and always with good friends!

Steve, Star of the Blog - climbing and suffering, training for Brevets...
Boss Man, who taught me how to make fast descents while flying down to Mammoth, AZ.
Gerry Goode, Saddlebrook resident who always met me at Espresso Drini for coffee
Susan, Beloved RBA
John, Cathy, and Eagle Wing - heading to Bio Sphere
Dave Glasgow, the Leprechaun
and Le Tigre!  The Cat of Foothills!

Le Tige on Oracle Rd, heading down into Tucson

It felt good to be in 70 degrees instead of 40 and 50 degrees like up in Tsaile.  Still, with a little cloud cover and some wind, we were a bit cold going out, mes amis.  As we came back to Dog Mtn, it finally got warm.  Le Tigre was a good sport to drive up to where I was staying with my old next door neighbor - we would have ridden further, but dang, time was passing quickly and I still had a ton of stuff to do before my all-day drive back up to The College.

We put in almost 50 miles round trip.  It was fun telling Le T about my life up on the Rez.  I sure hope he can come up and see me like he promised.  I will sure scout all he good roads to ride on, and find the choice routes up and around Canyon de Chelly.

So - how does it feel?  Little Egypt and I are close to selling our house up in Dog Mtn.  She has not lived there since 2009.  Jobs took us away from Tucson, and as you may know, Gentle Reader of This Blog, I tried for over a year to find a new job - I applied for almost every job in Tucson with no luck.  I would have applied for dish-washer, but 1, I have little experience, and 2 I'm over-qualified.  We tried renting as you know, but just had a worthless fuck for a tenant.

We've been paying rent in KS and mortgage in AZ, so it has been a drain on us.  One of the main reasons I took this job up in Tsaile is because the Navajo Nation gives me a free place to live - to which I am very grateful... and well, great places to ride!

I have to say that my walks, rides, and drives up here in this country have grown on me.  The solitude and absence of masspeople masshouses massautomobiles massconsumerism has cleared my mind - I reflect on my purpose, and my place in the world.  The World is a tough place and really, even if we're doing good, we are a lot of us on the verge of ruin.

How do we keep going?

I was fortunate, I think, to have had a good education - able to get okay jobs.  Now I have a professional job (librarian - yeah I know a stretch)

I gained a sense of my ancestors through my Grandmother Chandler (nee Wardlaw) who would spend hours with me, explaining and describing the people in the old black and white family photo albums that I was so fascinated with as a kid.  My Grandfather, Robert "Bobby" Chandler, was an artist (painter) and loved photography.  I have hundreds of pictures he took of Pairs and on-board ship while he was in the US Navy in WW I.

My Grandmother laid out for me like a big streaming book all those photos, telling me stories of the people, in such detail, such that over many years they seemed alive and close by.  I know and saw family in photos with objects - usually their personal and favorite objects, and those objects were in my grandparent's house such that I could hold them, wear them, sit on them, etc.  Being able to do that, in some ways, I became my ancestors...  It's been a big influence on how I see the world.

I have a few of those objects with me even now up here in the College Trailer Park.

Navajo people I have met have a certain modesty and resiliency; traits of character I saw in my family created from pictures and stories from my Grandmother.

That resiliency is surely to be tried living up here.

Cheers!  Bruce

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