Nogales Entrepreneurs/No National Emergency, part II

Perhaps my visiting Maine pal, former University of Maine prof Phyllis Brazee and I got  too silly, smiling near the needless razor-wired border wall, thrusting Nogales, Arizona, into a war zone.


Phyl Brazee, professor of life

Phyl wanted to see our quiet border town, fifty miles from Tucson. Our field trip included a delicious lunch on the Mexican side at La Roca, followed by a short stroll to the secret border crossing known to Nogales locals.


Festive La Roca in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico

An unexpected line greeted us. Seeming to be the only gringos queuing up, I asked a few people, “Habla Ingles?”

“Why the long line? Is it a Friday afternoon thing?” One young woman spoke poquito Ingles and said she didn’t know. We waited patiently. Most of our compadres did, too.

A nearly toothless man carrying a broom appeared next to us, leading a nicely dressed man into the line ahead of us. The interloper handed him 20 pesos. No one balked at the affront to traditional line protocol.

Tasting success, the scruffy entrepreneur identified us as senior citizens. Directing us to the front of the line, I knew that  the sign “Sentro” didn’t mean senior (I tried that before and was rebuffed by the border agent), but it was the Mexican version of Global Entry.

Another prospective entrepreneur appeared, weaving crosses and hearts out of palm fronds. No one whisked out their wallets.

Here’s a good one, I thought, when a cheerful father and daughter arrived with a guitar. They planted themselves farther up the line. I couldn’t see how they made out.

Around forty-five minutes passed pleasantly. I noticed an engaging older-than-us Mexican woman. Her name was Consuela, which means consolation in Latin. She wore a large cross around her neck and pretty purple flats. We smiled at each other.

“Yo tengo un nieto; se llama es Foss,” I proudly announced, the one Spanish sentence I had memorized from a class I took. She didn’t seem to get my sentence but we managed to understand our three names, communicating with hand signs and more smiles. As we inched closer to the crossing, I clasped her hand.

In Nogales, Arizona, Consuela walked down the opposite side of the street with a younger woman, perhaps her daughter. We waved and smiled at each other a few times. On either side of the border, we could be friends.





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No Crisis at the Nogales Border

I will not watch the make-believe president rant tonight about a make-believe border crisis. I will not believe his outrageous lies about rapists, murderers, and terrorists entering the United States from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, into Nogales, Arizona. I will not support sending the military to install razor wire on the useless border wall.

I do not like trump here or there. I do not like him anywhere.



Recently installed razor wire on the existing border wall between Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Mexico

We live 50 miles from the border. The only border crisis I recognize is how much I spend  fixing my teeth (maybe it’s because my mother put chocolate syrup in my milk to get me to drink it).

Today I drive an hour for my appointment in Nogales, Mexico. I park in a Burger King  lot in Nogales, Arizona, and walk across the street to the other Nogales.

In Mexico, the usual street vendors implore me to buy blankets or silver or anything to make a few pesos. “No, gracias,” I say, and they leave me alone.

I see no caravan refugees. I see no trace of the U.S. military. I see no “bad hombres” anywhere.


Around 200 feet from the US border in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico

As I wait for my appointment in the Dental Laser waiting room a few young folks come in, but most patients are older Americans. I wonder how many subscribe to the rapist, murderer, terrorist lies they hear on Fox News?

Here are the fine people I meet in Nogales.


Lupita, the able bilingual dental assistant who works with Dr. Sanchez, the crown specialist at Dental Laser

Dr. Sanchez discovers that I have a bone infection under a dental bridge that’s been bothering me for a few months (a Tucson dentist didn’t find the infection). Superior (non-criminal) Mexican dental care costs about a third as much as it does in Tucson, and it’s more high-tech.

Following my appointment I head over to La Roca, my favorite Mexican restaurant. It’s old-fashioned, with traditional white-jacketed older male waiters. Their chile rellenos are the best anywhere. I can’t turn down a yummy mini-margarita.


Next week I’ll return to La Roca and Dental Laser.

This week Lupita tells me of a border crossing down the street from the restaurant. “Most Americans don’t know about it,” she says. Second in line behind a teenager, I walk back into the U.S., onto Nogales, Arizona’s main street.

Thanks Lupita. I’m glad to know you here or there.




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Immigration Insanity, and one Saudi woman

Isn’t it ironic that more people were stopped at our northern border (91), entering the United States from Canada (October to March, 2018) for their “terrorist” leanings, than at our southern border (6)? Guess that doesn’t matter. Brown-skinned people are the ones our fake president and his minions fear most.

Is Trump getting what he wants by clamoring for his stupid wall? The immigration process into the U.S. is being held up for almost everyone. “Government shutdown cancels 43,000 immigration hearings, including 1,000 in Arizona,” reports Tucson’s Sentinal. 


Paul Ingram/

What about the forgotten children separated from their parents and held in cages on our Southern border? Anything to stop more brown people from entering our lily-white (NOT) communities?

I like Canada, although their country consists of mostly white folks. Who doesn’t? More than once I’ve received treatment at their socialist medical facilities. Yippee, I say, the more socialist-caring-for-people opportunities the better.

I’m impressed with Canada’s quick offer of asylum to Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, an 18-year-old Saudi woman, who snuck away from a family vacation in Kuwait. After announcing her atheism to her family she feared certain death. And don’t forget, Saudi Arabia is our good friend.

I’m more impressed with this young Saudi woman, who gave up everything she knew for a new life in cold Toronto. Ok, she must have had a credit card. She came from a well-off Saudi family, which won’t negate difficulties adjusting to a new culture. So far, her successful asylum is a feel-good story. We need more.

May we all find the courage to speak the truth in 2019!

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Voter Suppression in Arizona?

Really? The Arizona GOP files suit in court tomorrow to stop the continued counting of early ballots dropped off at polling places on Election Day.

I don’t trust their motivation. Is any unconstitutional or corrupt  practice now acceptable in our present political climate?

On Election Day I worked as an ID Clerk at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church. Many people had to vote provisional ballots.

Why? In the official register if a name had an E next to it, that individual requested an early ballot to vote by mail.  Yes, many of these voters toss the early ballot, lose it, or their dog ate it, and they don’t understand that you can’t vote in person on Election Day if you asked for an early ballot.

I was surprised by the number of voters who said they didn’t ask for an early ballot or that they asked for one and never received it, thus the need for them to vote provisionally.

It seemed that a good portion of the above individuals were first-time young voters or those with Hispanic names.

A conspiracy theory? I’m not a fan. I like evidence.

Every voter who stopped at our desk — around 250 — for an ID check was polite, and grateful to vote whatever way they could. I’m guessing that at least 150 provisional ballots and early ballots were amassed at our polling station alone.

Something felt wrong. I mentioned the seemingly high number of provisional ballots to my co-workers, who agreed there was something wrong with data entry at the Recorder’s Office or at the Elections Department.

By the end of the day, we started telling voters to call the Recorder’s Office after the election to question their voting status.

I fear voter suppression in Arizona. (Click here to read NBC News link.)

At the very least, there’s too much confusion on Election Day.

How do early ballot voters know their votes have been counted? I’ve gone online to the Recorder’s Office website at least five times since mailing my ballot the day after I received it in early October.

My ballot is in batch E2 on Oct. 19, ready to be counted. Was it counted? I don’t know.

I do know, — according to today’s front-page article in the Arizona Daily Star (Nov. 8) –Sinema is ahead by around 8,000 votes in Maricopa County and by 37,000 votes out of 302,000 cast in Pima County.

McSally leads the AZ U.S. Senate vote by less than one percent of the votes already counted.

There are around 600,000 provisional and early ballots that have yet to be counted.

Maricopa and Pima Counties are the two with the most uncounted ballots.

So, why is the GOP going to court tomorrow?



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Saturday morning in our hood; Tuesday morning at the polls

Strolling to Reid Park for the Firefighters Chili Cook-off Saturday morning, you wouldn’t know that demagoguery is at play across the land.

Sampling tiny cups of chili I wonder which of the all-male chefs might agree with my progressive politics. My favorite was Space Force chili, concocted with bacon and brisket, melded sweetly and spicily with a smoky flavor. All of the concocters were nice, polite.

How could any of them be right-wing white nationalists?

We walk home along the Treat Walkway. A woman with a swinging dark ponytail approaches us, asking, “Want to buy some liquor? I’ve got everything here in my bag.”


“We don’t drink,” I sort of lie.

“Well you should,” she retorts. I’ve got rum, tequila, and gin.” She shows us three bottles, not taking no for an answer. Following the midterms, I’ll start drinking more? I hope not.

We head to our favorite Little Free Library, checking for throwaway mysteries. It’s such a nice neighborhood. Three residents just finished offering a recycling workshop. One man thanks us for checking out their little library.


Poetry mailbox on the Treat Walkway. Take one. Leave one. Community sharing!

Our next destination is Barrio Bread. Do I smell the yummy baking aroma as we turn the corner? There’s always a line to pick up bread — whatever traditional baker Don Guerra’s artisan loaves are that day,  including apricot-cranberry, olive focaccia, or multi-seed (my favorite). Happy customers leave with bags clutched close, like a football or a baby.


Everyone smiles, as they leave, regardless of where they line up in Arizona’s voting array, one-third each Democrats, Republicans, or Independents. Senate races in Arizona and Nevada are crucial wins if Dems are to flip the U.S. Senate.

Today is Monday. I’ll get up at 4:30 a.m. tomorrow, take a quick shower, pack the car with my knitting, reading, pot-luck fruit salad for poll-working fifteen hours at St. Mark’s Church. I’ll be the ID Clerk, greeting voters of all parties, checking their registrations.

Today I bite my nails. I’m agitated.

Tomorrow I’ll be guessing by how much Democratic voters outweigh Republicans. At the August primary it was 3-to-1. Let’s hope our precinct goes wild for democracy.

This morning on the radio I heard Trump rail at one of his out-of-control campaign rallies,  something akin to: “If the Democrats win your children won’t have a country anymore!”

Projection? Let’s stop him. Tomorrow.  Vote Democratic! Vote for women, minorities, and young candidates who speak truth to power!

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“I am leaving, I am leaving but the fighter still remains…”

So sang Joan Baez last night at the Tucson leg of her one-year farewell tour.

We need dynamic social justice fighters. And Joan Baez? Who has been more of a stellar role model spanning her fifty-year career?


Joan Baez with Craig Sumberg, executive director of the Fox Tucson Theatre

“It’s been a splendid evening,” she said, waving to the audience following nearly two hours of gorgeous singing, which showed the dynamic range of her one-and-only voice, matched to exquisite guitar strumming.

If it was splendid for her, I deemed it the most perfect concert ever. Lightning struck as I understood each  articulated word.

Wow. I couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t ask, “What, what did she say?”

Which makes me think: not only about garbled words, the illegitimacy of facts referred to as “fake media,” and the parade of lies streaming from our president’s mouth.

Tomorrow he’s headed to Pittsburgh, scene of the horrifying massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue on Oct. 27. Some Jewish leaders say he’s not welcome unless he denounces his fellow white nationalists. That won’t happen.

Instead, he’ll read a lovely speech from a teleprompter, attempting to sound like a compassionate human being. Within minutes he’ll hop back onto his tweeting hobby horse.

Consider this: Trump has tweeted that the “caravan” of poor Latin American refugees are planning “an invasion of our country,” similar to the Pittsburgh murderer who accused Jews of “bringing in invaders who were killing his people.”

Last night, Joan Baez sang “The President Sang Amazing Grace,” Barrack Obama’s response to Charleston’s horrific massacre in a place of worship.

Can anyone imagine our current president expending such compassion or caring about anyone other than himself?

I’ll bet many Pittsburgh Jewish community members would prefer listening to the soothing, magnificent voice of Joan Baez tomorrow.

Not the fake empathy of a fake president.







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It’s now or never…

IMG_1550The seventies are different from the sixties. Stiffer, slower movements in my body and brain. Words fly by avoiding recognition. Synapses disregard memories.

Seventy-two years old? How did I get here? My grown-up kids would say I never acted my age.

I cling to other people’s surprise when they discover how old I am.

If someone tells me “You don’t look it!” my day brightens.

Yet, being fifteen pounds overweight bewilders me.

“Oh, if only I could lose ten pounds,” I used to say. Not anymore. I’m healthy. I don’t overeat.  If I eat a cookie I gain a pound. My stomach sticks out despite three weekly Pilates classes. Estrogen, long gone.

So I’ve made a few decisions.

Decision One: I’m not going to Weight Watchers or going on a diet. I’m not avoiding a chocolate chip cookie following dinner at Rocco’s. Hell, we walk home. Shouldn’t that count for something?

Decision Two: I’m front-loading travel during the next few years. Isn’t it clear that I won’t want to take twenty-hour flights around the world when my legs stiffen up more?

Decision Three: I’ll travel to Southern France, Tuscany, San Miguel Allende, and Mount Desert Island, Maine, in 2019 — in addition to Minneapolis and Chapel Hill. Perhaps I’ll drive home from Thanksgiving with Dan, stopping in hip Greenville and at the new Legacy Museum in Montgomery, seeing artsy Marfa, meandering to Big Bend National Park.

Realization: I was a kid in my sixties scurrying over rocks in Sabino Canyon or on Mt. Desert Island. My body didn’t harbor aches and pains. Like clockwork they arrived at age seventy: arthritis in my right thumb, precipitating my first physical therapy sessions; the need to stretch my feet before getting out of bed so I wouldn’t hobble to the bathroom; three cancer scares (breast, leg, jaw), which luckily all turned out benign. PHEW.

It’s a good sign that I find learning thrilling. Watching my two book group friends jazzing it up last night at Hacienda del Sol reminded me how I’m itching to dance more.

I’m not done. Contentment drops by often. No rushing around, less stress about work and kids, no guilt consuming two pieces of dark chocolate every morning.

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