JOE’S CORNER


In each community there is, or should be, a tiny place where people can congregate and share ideas. Europe abounds with small hidden away places, possibly where artists and writers have scribbled away in the dim romantic past. Ideally it should be old, and carry a history of questionable legality. The coffee should be hot and strong, and should be accompanied by something good to eat.

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I don’t know who “Joe” was, but he probably laid claim to this corner in the early part of the 20th century of prohibition fame. Our friends own the property, and Joe may have been an early relative. The little shop remained vacant for 50 years or so of my memory, while people said that “someone” should put it back in business.

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A charming lady named Melissa has now put it back in business, purveying soups, salads, and sandwiches, and coffee strong enough to keep you awake for half the night. We met friends there yesterday, and after imagining the days of Prohibition, when naughty people may have surreptitiously slipped into the back room to quickly wet their whistles, we added Joe’s Corner to our morning itinerary.

Joe's Corner

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
“If it is so that we live only a small part of our life–what happens to the rest of it?” Amadeo Prado

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DROUGHT MENTALITY


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I’m warning you first off that this is not an optimistic post. I thought I could get some form of humor out of it, but it just ain’t funny.

People in California are praying for rain, even when they’re agnostics. I’m sure you have heard the saying that there are no atheists in foxholes? Well it’s the same in a drought. Parched, we all turn pious.

We diligently watch the weather reports, which tell us that tomorrow will be in the 80’s or possibly in the 90’s, with the possibility of triple digit temperatures inland. The weather maps float around in brilliant hues showing all the colors of the warm palette; yellow, orange, and finally slipping into red. Under blazing skies wildfires continue to ravage dry forest land, and threaten hillsides barren of anything but scrub grass. A wildfire doesn’t discriminate; as long as it is burnable, it’s fair game. And speaking of game, the little animals who seek shelter from the unrelenting sunshine, are driven further afield and away from the crackling inferno. But to where?

We are put on water-saving alert, and may only water our gardens once a week. For those of us with large areas to hydrate, it presents a problem. We recycle everything, using grey water to pour on the garden plants. After using every possible way to save water, I was surprised and incensed to receive a notice from the water company that our usage was higher than any comparable property in our neighborhood. My normal reaction was; “what do they want from me?”

Neighbor watches neighbor to see if their lawns are turning brown. Some towns have signs that state “Brown is the New Green”. We are threatened by a possible $500 fine or at least a monthly penalty. And yet the golf courses remain green. I’m not a golfer, so perhaps that isn’t a fair complaint.

Reading further down the notice from the water company, I found their record showed only one person living here! I haven’t decided which one of us is leaving.

This is a replay of the drought of thirty years ago. That lasted so long I bought another large plastic garbage bin to put beside the washer, and bucketed out the grey water. I’m not looking forward to it this time, but it does lend a certain degree of smugness when bragging about the number of water saving tricks you are using. In that drought, restaurants had cute little cards on each table reminding you to ask if you want water. Now when I ask for any, I make sure I sit there till I drink it all.

Spirits were lifted somewhat by the hope that another El Nino would send all the rain we needed in a month or so, but since that has been downgraded to 65%, don’t go betting all the benjamins on it. The reason seems to be the lack of the Equatorial Kelvin wave. Since I’m not a scientist, I don’t know if that’s a surfing type wave. My surfing friends and family may have to go somewhere other than California to practice their sport.

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The coastal waves were building up a week or so ago and the surfers were clamoring to throw themselves into each wave. We’ve seen more sharks and whales coming closer to shore, being swept along by warmer water.

Remember that Joseph, after he got his coat of many colors, predicted seven years of drought (famine) before seven years of plenty. So far we have had only three years of this drought.

We spent last weekend in Seattle, which is noted for its rain, although having lived there, I think that’s something they tell Californians to keep them out of Washington. There was a delicious smell of ozone in the air one evening and a light sprinkle dampened the sidewalks and cleared off the dust of the day.

But what comes around, goes around, and this too will pass. But if El Nino ever comes, remember you wished for it. For the record, El Nino is not a storm, and “El Nino is Spanish for “the child”.

LUCA, HE’S DA MAN!


mini pin 2 I had known Luca for the better part of nine years. Handsome, dark, sleek and energetic, always with feminine admirers at his beck and call. He was always around somewhere each time we visited Seattle, leading us into unplanned though amusing adventures somewhere in the city.

I remember him accompanying our granddaughter Kate several years ago. She in a charming white dress reminiscent of a warm summer afternoon in Paris, he paying court to her while ignoring the rest of us.

We dined at a small chic French restaurant in downtown Seattle nibbling on an amuse-bouche while waiting for a delightful crab and leek quiche, which held no appeal for Luca. After lunch we strolled around the streets popping into shops along the way. By the time we hit the shoe store Luca had had it, and he and Kate continued on their way.

When Kate graduated from the University Luca appeared at the party afterward, dressed in what he somehow thought appropriate—a black cap and gown on which he had someone put his name! I saw and read it quickly and it translated to “U.C.L.A.” A terrible faux pas when the institution of the day is the University of Washington.

On our visit to Seattle the past weekend, Luca showed up, sexy as ever, but not quite as sleek as in the old days. He may have put on a pound or two, but as ready for a good time as in the past. He was staying with our daughter who, great hostess as she is, catered to his every whim.

The first night of our visit, tired from the flight, we retired early. Dr. Advice quickly fell sound asleep while I drifted in and out for awhile. In my half sleep I heard the bedroom door quietly open, and before I knew what was happening, Luca climbed in beside me. It was a plan stunning in its simplicity. Accustomed as I am to Charlie sharing our bed, it seemed quite natural, so I let him stay. After all, Luca is a tad smaller than our old Dobermann Pinscher Max, who weighed 110#.

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His “mother” Kate, returned from a diving trip in Thailand a few nights later, and rescued Luca from the overweening “grandparents” both great and regular.

INDIFFERENT COMPARISONS


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“The Old Arrow Maker” original watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

The stories of our state’s Native Americans and those of New Mexico have intriguing similarities. I have been writing about the Indians of the Southwest for some time without comparing the histories of the local people.

Santa Fe became a capital city 200 years before Washington, D.C. was founded. The Spanish stared colonizing New Mexico 100 years before California. Native Americans still make up almost 10 percent of the population of New Mexico, while in California less than 2 percent are listed as Native Americans.

Although the two states became part of the United States at the same time, it took New Mexico 62 years longer to achieve statehood.

The arrival of Europeans was disastrous to both states’ Native Americans. The white man’s diseases—measles, smallpox, and diphtheria—killed thousands.

California Indians were gatherers and hunters. When they had exhausted the resources of a place, they burned their rough wooden structures and moved on. The Pueblo Indians of New Mexico were farmers who grew corn, squash and beans. They built permanent houses of adobe in villages that had been in the same place for 1,000 years.

The mission system in New Mexico was very different, but still cruel in its attempt to eradicate the ancient culture by destroying sacred artifacts and forcing a foreign religion on a deeply spiritual people. One priest boasted he had burned many sacred Indian masks.

The Pueblo Indians knew how to grow things. The Spanish conquerors demanded a tithe and confiscated many of their crops.

When the Spanish missionaries arrived in California, there were 300,000 Indians. By the time the United States took over in 1848, 150,000 were left. The great influx of people with the Gold Rush sounded a death knell for those remaining. By 1900, thee were 15,000.

There are 19 self-governing Pueblo nations in New Mexico, where Native Americans keep their culture, traditions and language. Most villages speak a variety of the root languages Tiwa or Tewa.

How did they manage to preserve their heritage? Perhaps it was because of charismatic leader Po’Pay, who brought together the different factions of his people to revolt against the tyrannical rule of the Franciscan priests and Spanish rulers. The Pueblo Indians—armed with bows and arrows—drove out their Spanish conquerors—whose soldiers had guns and metal armor—in 1680.

Drought and the Apaches hit the pueblos in the 1670’s and Po’Pay took up residence in Taos and plotted the rebellion among the 46 Pueblo towns in the Rio Grande valley. In the Acoma Massacre the Spanish killed and enslaved hundreds. Twenty-four men had a foot amputated when trying to escape from the “mile-high” city atop the mesa.

To spread the word among the villages he gave a knotted cord to runners sent to all Pueblos. Each day a knot was untied until the final knot which would signal the people to rise up against the Spanish. After the revolt survivors fled to Santa Fe and Isleta which was 10 miles south, and which did not participate in the rebellion. All the Spanish fled to El Paso.

For 12 years, the Pueblos were independent. In 1692, the Spanish regained control of the Pueblos, but this time they were more accommodating, allowing the Pueblos to keep their own spiritual practices as long as they also followed Catholicism.

As an interesting aside, in one or two villages the Franciscans paved a small area in front of the entrance to the churches, ostensibly to “make a better place for the Indians to perform ceremonial dances”. This however, removed the direct connection of their feet to Mother Earth, so they did not use the architectural improvement.

THE GENERAL AND THE MADAM


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Stephen Watts Kearny was promoted to Brigadier General when the Mexican-American War broke out. He had been serving as military governor in California for a few months, but upon his promotion he gathered a force of 2,500 men and led them from Fort Leavenworth in the Kansas territory to the town of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Kearny was a handsome,serious and youthful 52 years old at the time. He had been well-liked during his governorship, and Kearny Street in San Francisco was named for him.

The Mexican soldiers stationed in Santa Fe scattered when they heard he was coming leaving Kearny to take control of the territory. He appointed Charles Bent, an American trader living in Taos, as governor, and left for California with 300 men. He left 800 soldiers in Santa Few and sent another 800 to capture El Paso

However there was a minor problem. The payroll for the U.S. soldiers was late in arriving in Santa fe, and the soldiers weren’t getting paid.

At the same time, there was in Santa Fe a successful madam, who ran a gambling house that the American soldiers patronized. Maria Gertrudis Barcelo realized that Santa Fe under the Americans would be very good for her business.

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Her saloon, with sparkling crystal chandeliers and floors covered with European carpets, was described as running the length of a block in the center of town. Barcelo, known as La Tules, was very good at gambling. According to reports, she was always richly dressed and covered with jewelry. Some said she was beautiful, others reported that she was not so good looking, but everyone agreed there was no one better at the card game monte than she was, dealing night after night often until dawn.

She was well-known and politically connected in Santa Fe, and it was said that Kearny gave her a military escort to the Victory Ball at La Fonda Hotel. It was also said that she was the one who persuaded the Mexican governor of Santa Fe to leave and let the Americans take over the place.

When La Tules heard that the American soldiers weren’t getting paid, she lent the U.S. Army the money to take care of the payroll.

Because she heard gossip in her saloon by highly placed political figures of every make, she could also pass valuable information on to the U.S. Army. In December, 1846, she warned the Army of a Mexican-Indian conspiracy that threatened the Americans.

La Tules died a very wealthy woman and left a good part of her fortune to the church, ensuring an impressive funeral presided over by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy, whom you will remember from Willa Cather’s fine book “Death Comes To the Archbishop.”

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A few years later, in the 1960’s, Dr. Advice with a group of colleagues, stayed at the La Fonda for two or three weeks. Twenty years later, on another visit to Santa Fe, he asked if the owner was still living, and was assured that she was on the premises and would be glad to see him. A very elderly lady emerged from the back office, and after being introduced she smiled and said “Oh you’re part of those troublemakers who stayed here twenty years ago! Of course I remember you.” She graciously paid our room tab and supplied a delicious dinner. The La Fonda is still a fine historic hotel in the middle of the Plaza. I never found out exactly what that group of youngish “troublemakers’ had done to warrant her remembrance.