TWO BILL FOSTERS

March 28, 2012

Bill Foster was an indomitable spirit. I believe everyone loved him because he always had a smile on his face and he calmly refused to die. He unreasonably wouldn’t die when every indicator of “death is near” came to him over and over  in different guises.  He held on to  life even though it offered him limited mobility and comfort. No one beats the system, and my friend, Bill Foster died March 20th.  This picture is from his 75th birthday party that I blogged last year. You can meet Bill there at this address:
http://otrwjam.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/bill-foster-of-angels-camp/

I, like most people I know, dislike funerals. I am so grateful that celebrations of life are more common than funerals and his family’s  request for a celebration of life, was to wear colorful, fun clothes.

His grandson, Cameron, managed to fit into his grandfather’s some other era golf clothes with the pants tucked into the socks. His son Steve, wore his father’s polyester suit of orange checks and tried to fill his father’s shoes.  He did a good job, of it , too.

And no one ever expected Bill to do things like anybody else. He wanted to be a married man again. He had asked Linda Strangio to marry him. She finally gave in to that request and they were married 15 days before he died. He smiled all through the ceremony. And he died a happy man.

 

I met Bill Foster because of my friend Bill Foster (above). I went to an Arts Council summer music event in Arnold about five years ago, and was looking for a place to put my blanket on the grass in the park. My friend Barbara invited me to join them. I said, thanks but I was waiting for my friend Bill Foster.  She said, “Oh, I know him, he used to be my insurance agent in Dublin.”  I said, no, my friend Bill Foster is a retired cop.  That happened three times that day and I decided, I’ve gotta meet this guy. Bill Foster the cop got me in touch with Bill Foster the insurance agent, and I joined a number of his friends who helped bandage his legs. (He needed bandages changed three times a day at that point.)

Bill and his wife, June were at the celebration of life as well. Bill (cop) always called Bill (agent), sonny, because he is slightly older than he was. They lived in the same town, golfed on the same course, were constantly getting each others mail, or the wrong chart at a doctor’s appointment, and phone messages meant for the “other” Bill Foster. The opportunities for humor were many, and Bill exploited them at the celebration of life. I am lucky to have had two great friends named Bill Foster. One here and one I’ll never forget.

PANCHO VILLA STATE PARK

March 9, 2012

We are staying at Pancho Villa State Park. Its comfortable and quiet here. We hunkered down from a terrible wind storm that had Highway 10 closed, and wind gusts up to 75 miles per hour. We stayed in and felt like someone was banging on a tin can as the motor home did a bit of rock and roll, the wind blasting away.  Yesterday was clear and crisp and we walked the park. The park is very distinctive considering that it was the first airbase in the United States, Camp Furlong, and it is also the site of Pancho Villa’s attack on Columbus,New Mexico. Villa’s scouts counted 30 soldiers before his attack, but they were wrong and the attack met 350 American soldiers with a brand new  weapon, a machine gun.Villa was quickly dispatched.

We walked to the top of this hill where a placque displays the battle of how Villa’s men attacked the base. And, of course he attacked the town as well, intending to take over Columbus.

The Citizens fought Villa and their account is in a nearby Museum and the old Custom House visible from the top of the hill. We visited here in January of 2010 and the Museum is really well done as well as a private museum in town that has a replica of Villa’s death mask and many first hand accounts from the citizens who lived there.

In the intervening years, Columbus has made a big effort to honor the long years of friendship with its nearby Mexican neighbors, and Mexican officials from Chihuahua have cooperated with Columbus on the Museum and come here once a year to celebrate Camp Furlong Days, a parade and festivities that we will attend tomorrow.  The attack was 96 years ago.

Two adobe buildings from Camp Furlong’s headquarters are preserved on the site.

And the remains of a grease rack used to maintain vehicles here. It is humorous that the grease and petrol had to be packed in from the train station by mule teams.

When we visited in 2010, we crossed into Mexico and had delicious dinner in Las Palomas with fun friends and strolling musicians. With dismay, I noticed a sign at the park warning us that the most dangerous border crossings today are from Columbus, New Mexico, Fort Hix and Fabens, Texas. What a shame that the drug cartels have practically halted what was once a delightful place to visit. While it won’t stop the celebration being held here tomorrow, there has been, and still is, a lot of controversy about naming the park for Pancho Villa. You can click the two links below and read how people feel about it.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-03-09-1Apanchovilla09_CV_N.htm
http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/letters/2011-03-14-letters14_ST_N.htm

I prefer friendship to hostilities and agree with those who remember that America isn’t innocent of wrong doing and we should all move on.

Interestingly, the park water tank raises consciousness of the water crisis we will someday face and says:  You are drinking ice age water….

…what will you drink next year?

Hmmm!  Good question.

JUST FIVE MINUTES

December 19, 2011

My neighbor, Jan,  is known for popping in for five minutes, always with some  ulterior m0tive.  She decided I was lacking “bling”. You can see the  bling on  my shoulder.

I had hired a homeless guy, looking for work,  to do some chores around the place. He told me he had worked as a roofer, had some carpentry skills, knew how to use a chain saw, etc.  I have a storage shed with warped doors and I asked him if he could fix them. He did and I gave him some paint to paint the shed. Unfortunately, he painted the doors shut. So, I asked my friends to help me get the doors open.    Jan is one of those people who likes to have  fun with anything she does, and she likes ceremonies. She grabbed a pot to beat on, and Karen, my housemate,  is half Cherokee and did a ceremonial dance.

While they did their work,  I used a hacksaw blade to cut through the thin coating between the two doors.

It wasn’t budging. My crowbar and nail puller both disappeared but I had a long,  strong mechanic’s screwdriver. It took some doing to pry the doors open without wrecking them.

That’s when we discovered he had nailed the doors shut. I guess he figured he wasn’t coming back anyway. Gotta take laughter where you find it.  And, what the hey, the guy needed the money.

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