Where’s the (Corned) Beef?

As was inevitable, I have found a bit of a downside to living in Arizona. It’s not the rattlesnakes or scorpions—I find them intriguing, and I’ll have more on that later. Instead, it’s something infinitely more mundane but nonetheless important to me.

Now I’m not one to quibble about money. If I want something, I buy it. If I could have bought it for less somewhere else, this would have no bearing on my life. I wanted it, and I bought it.

Neither penny wise nor dollar foolish, just happy.

The problem here is not only the price of this item but even finding it has become problematic.

T’is the season for those of us with Irish ancestry to celebrate with the traditional Irish Soda Bread with Corned Beef, Potatoes, and Cabbage dinner boiled in  Guinness—a worthy sacrifice of a wonderful beer. And although my genetics say there are both Scandinavian and Jewish traces, it was a recent discovery and unknown in the formative years, thus no yarmulke, children named Sven, or other traditions.

But it would appear that the Irish never made it this far. The Irish influence seemed to fade after the Mississippi. There are some Irish pubs, but I prefer to do this myself.

Perhaps, if they had pushed on, their patron saint, St. Pádraig or St. Patrick in the vernacular, might have also been petitioned to remove the snakes from here. Then, we’d have the same availability and pricing for the ingredients for the holy repast.

But, alas, it is not to be. Corned beef is a wee bit pricier here, as is the cabbage. Now, truth be told, I can do without the cabbage. Even the nectar of Guinness cannot fully mask the taste, but tradition is tradition.

I’d like to blame the supply chain problem left over from the pandemic, but I can see the prices in New England are their usual low; thus, that excuse fails. A return to the homeland would require freezing to death so that’s out. So here I will remain.

But, I will stay with my usual habit, buy corned beef and cabbage, and enjoy my beloved tradition. We are only here once, and denying yourself something seems a foolish philosophy.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh

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Southwestern Thoughts: Pueblos and Rock Music

Traveling through the Southwest, I was intrigued by the changing landscapes. From the flat desert of Phoenix we climbed into the mountains as we drove to Albuquerque.1668896_orig The mountains, steep and rocky, soon gave way to more gently rolling hills now covered with pine trees instead of cactus.

We were at elevations of six to eight thousand feet and the contrasts to the desert couldn’t be starker.

The beauty of this part of the country is breathtaking. The other obvious element of this area is the influence of Mexico. This is a land where the Spanish influenced language, mixed with the cultural heritage of the Mexican people, blended with the Native culture of the Pueblo people exemplifies the best of the multi-cultural melting part that is America.

It occurred to me that calling for a wall between the United States and Mexico would be an insult to the people of this area. These are people who take pride in their culture yet are more American in their attitude than some would admit.

These are a people who accept their differences as a benefit to the country, not something to be lost or blocked off.

There was a time not long ago when the policy of the government, following on the heels of the Spanish efforts, tried to wipe the native culture of the Pueblos from the face of the earth. They forced the children into Indian Schools where they were force-fed Christianity, English, and European history.

They were forbidden to practice their own religion and cultural traditions.

They were forbidden to speak their own language.

They were forced to abandon their history.

This is the land that gave us the “Wind Talkers” of Navajo fame. Whose exploits in the South Pacific against the Japanese are now legendary. Yet, for years it was concealed because to acknowledge it was to give credence to a culture we did not embrace.

The reason for our trip out here was to attend a Mumford and Sons concert. The music was great if a bit loud (I know, my age is showing.) I was struck by the power of the music to inspire the crowd to dance and sing along.

I have never been one for dancing, yet I was a bit envious of those who let themselves be carried away by the songs. Many let themselves just dance away. Many looked quite natural at it. Some, those who haven’t visited a gym or a salad bar in years, looked almost dangerous but hey, they were dancing.

After the concert, we journeyed to Albuquerque and will continue on to Taos and Santa Fe. Here in Albuquerque, we visited the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. We watched a demonstration of several Native American dances performed by a new generation of Pueblos trying to maintain their cultural heritage.

Many of these dances are performed as part of the Pueblo peoples’ appreciation for the interrelationship of all to the Earth. The animals they hunt, crops they grow, the water they receive as rain are all given due thanks and gratitude.

To the Pueblo, this is their form of devotion to their concept of the creator. Their creation story is no more or less valid than any other. Yet, under the guise of the Christian tradition, we tried to destroy it as a false legend.

It struck me as I watched these young men and women dance, that if people spent less time praying and trying to convince others their beliefs are wrong and more time dancing, be it to a rhythmic chant of an ancient Puebloan rite of harvest or a Mumford and Sons ballad, we’d all be better off.