Commercial Real Estate and Big Business force out the Middle Class

Commercial Real Estate and Big Business force out the Middle class in Arizona.

Why are Americans choosing to live overseas? Can small business survive Amazon and Walmart?

Can an employee afford to live here? Why are Americans moving overseas? This is a chart of the number (estimated) of US citizens living abroad.

CountryNumber of Americans (estimated)
Mexico799,000
Canada273,000
United Kingdom171,000
Germany153,000
Hong Kong]85,000
Australia117,000
Israel77,000
South Korea68,000
France62,000
Japan58,000
Spain57,000
Italy54,000
Philippines38,000
New Zealand36,000

14 Countries With the Most American Expats: Updated: 05/31/2022

Expat Guide

Over 8.7 million non-military Americans live overseas.

However, where do most of them live? Well, the answer may surprise you.

Countries With Most American Expats

First off, this chart won’t include U.S. military personnel. Moreover, since governments collect information on immigration in various ways, there’s no way to provide factual information about the number of American immigrants in each country.

The chart was sourced from the U.N. International Migrant Stock at Mid-Year by Sex and Region, Country or Area of Destination, and Origin.

What country has the most rich and poor? Is this what is happening in the US? Are we becoming the land of the rich and poor? Why does it take two armed Country Sheriffs to guard the local Walmart store during the day?

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Wealth Inequality (World Bank Gini index):

  1. South Africa – 63.0%
  2. Namibia – 59.1%
  3. Suriname – 57.9%
  4. Zambia – 57.1%
  5. Sao Tome and Principe – 56.3%
  6. Central African Republic – 56.2%
  7. Eswatini – 54.6%
  8. Mozambique – 54.0%
  9. Brazil – 53.4%
  10. Botswana – 53.3%

South Africa’s income inequality has become worse over the years. The top 1% of earners take home almost 20% of income and the top 10% take home 65%. That means that 90% of South African earners take home only 35% of all income. ________________________________________________________________________

China, India and the U. S. are projected to retain the top three rankings as the countries with the largest middle-class populations, according to World Data Lab. Slow or negative population growth in some advanced economies will lead to a shrinking middle class in countries like Japan, Germany, Italy and Poland.chart(World Data Lab – Bloomberg).

(Note: The WDL study uses 2011 dollars at purchasing power parity.)

First Published: Fri, September 03 2021. 06:36 IST

GDP = Gross Domestic Product

And PPP = Purchasing Power Parity (per capita/per person on average)

CountryGDP-PPP ($)
Luxembourg126,569
Ireland111,360
Singapore107,677
Qatar100,037
Switzerland78,112
United Arab Emirates74,245
Norway69,859
United States69,375
Macao SAR67,475
Brunei Darussalam65,675
San Marino65,446

As you can see, The GDO and PPP (Gross Domestic Product and Purchasing Power Parity of the US: is 50% of that of Luxemburg and Ireland! Are we gradually slipping behind?

Commercial Real Estate owners in AZ own 25% of all property, private owners, 18% and the Federal government 43%. People also ask: https://www.fs.fed.us/rm/boise/AWAE/labs/awae_flagstaff/watersheds/basics/management.html

Bottom of Form   Public Land Management and Land Ownership in Arizona   Public Land Management and Land Ownership in Arizona There are 72.9 million acres of land in Arizona. Approximately 12.9 million acres, or 18%, in Arizona are privately owned. Approximately 9.6 million acres in Arizona, or 13 %, are managed by the State of Arizona. Approximately 20.1 million acres in Arizona, or 27 %, are held in trust by the United State Government for native Americans. Approximately 30.3 million acres in Arizona, or 42 %, are owned by the citizens of the United States. These public lands are managed by the USDA Forest Service, the National Park Service, military organizations, and USDI Bureau of Land Management

Search Resultshttps://chamberbusinessnews.com/2022/03/23/bill-to-lower-arizona-commercial-property-tax-inches-closer-to-passage/ As rents skyrocket, commercial owners seek to pay less tax. The meteoric rise of homelessness is clearly linked, in part, to rising rent prices.

 “Arizona commercial property makes up roughly one-fifth of the property owned in the state, and yet we pay around one-third of the total cost incurred by property taxes,” said Tim Lawless, the president of CREED, Commercial Real-estate Executives for Economic Development .Mar 23, 2022

18% property privately owned

42 % owned by Federal government

25% commercial real estate

 85% of all property 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Every resident in the state needs to know that commercial real estate investors are not your friends. They are not your neighbors, they won’t be your neighbors, it is unlikely they will ever live here. They don’t care about the city, the state, the wildlife or the schools. They are here for one reason only and that is to make money. They will then take the cash and live in very expensive and exclusive places (maybe New Zealand or some small island) and leave the residents to deal with homelessness, gangs and crime.

The residents of AZ need to curb the influx of commercial investors of properties that turn us all into the rental poor with no hope of ever buying a home. If the influx cannot be stopped (or we don’t want it to) the people of the state need to put a lid on the rapidly escalating % of rent increases that are happening all over the state. If this does not happen, the middle class drain out of the state will continue and increase. We will be left with a situation that is occurring in California where the cities are becoming composed of the rich, the poor and the gangs.

This state, much like what has happened in California, will not only become not affordable, it will become unlivable. I clearly recall a story told to me from a California transplant. She sold a nice home in Victorville for a loss because the homeless had become so aggressive around the grocery stores, middle-aged housewives were carrying guns in their purses. That is starting to happen here and we need to stop it.

Cew 7/22

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Pulled from Tucson Police.

Senate approves Tucson police Chief Chris Magnus to take over as CBP Commissioner

Tucson City Council taps Deputy Chief Chad Kasmar to lead the city’s police department

Chris Magnus was approved by the Senate to become commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.(Cronkite News)

By KOLD News 13 Staff

Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 4:22 PM MST

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) – In an 50-47 vote Tuesday, the Senate approved Tucson police Chief Chris Magnus to take over as commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Magnus was hired as TPD’s leader in 2016 when Roberto Villaseñor retired.

“I congratulate Chief Magnus on his appointment and am grateful for his dedicated service and contributions to our community. I look forward to working together with the Commissioner on key issues affecting Southern Arizona,” Tucson Mayor Regina Romero was quoted as saying in a news release.

As head of the TPD, he had more than 1,100 employees. As CBP commissioner, he will lead a 60,000-worker department.

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President Joe Biden in April nominated Magnus for the position, citing his “lengthy career” in law enforcement and experience working in a border state.

“In Tucson, Magnus implemented de-escalation training, sentinel event review processes, and programs to promote officer health and wellness. Because of Tucson’s proximity to the border, he has extensive experience in addressing immigration issues,” read a statement from the White House.

But the nomination was held up for months and things didn’t kick back up until early November.

Magnus has spent more than four decades working in public safety. He began working as a dispatcher and paramedic in his native Lansing, Michigan before becoming a sheriff’s deputy.

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He became chief of the Fargo Police Department in North Dakota in 1999 and took over as police chief in Richmond, California, in 2006.

The Tucson City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 7, unanimously approved Tucson Deputy Chief Chad Kasmar to take over as chief.(City of Tucson)

Also on Tuesday, the Tucson City Council unanimously approved the promotion of Deputy Chief Chad Kasmar to take over for Magnus. The position went into effect immediately.

“During his 21-year career at the Tucson Police Department, Chad Kasmar has earned the respect of our Tucson community as well as fellow officers. Chad has proven himself to be a collaborator who sees public safety through a holistic lens and shares my vision of Community Safety, Health, and Wellness,” Romero said.

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Kasmar has been a member of the Tucson Police Department since 2000, and was promoted to Deputy Chief in 2016.

He is a graduate of Amphitheater Public Schools and the University of Arizona and has spent time in several divisions with the TPD. Most recently, Kasmar served as the interim director at 911 Communications.

Romero says she will ask Kasmar to go on a “listening tour” with community members to further develop his goals for the department.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved

________________________________________________________________

The world will be watching to see how this new command fairs with these never ending and contenscious border problems.

Cheating spouses

Aberdeen News
5 things all unfaithful people regret after they cheat

Mariel Reimann

FamilyShare – marielreimann@yahoo.com  June 2, 2017

No matter how infidelity occurs, there are things that the cheater always regrets. Here are at least five things that these people regret after they have a romance outside of their marriage or relationship:

1. Not realizing what they had before

Cheaters are egocentric people who put their desires above anyone else’s. They have no problem putting everything on the line for something they want. No matter what sort of relationship they are in, they tend to find a new “target,” and go for it.

“I knew I loved her, but I had no idea how deep my feelings for her were when I decided to be unfaithful to her,” a 29-year-old man explains in an open letter to an infidelity specialist. People who are unfaithful regret not realizing how much they loved their partner.

2. Feeling like they need to be unfaithful to be wanted

People who cheat are egocentric, but behind the façade is great insecurity. This person is someone who previously used seduction as a tool to measure their acceptance. They lack confidence when they aren’t actively involved in a romantic “chase” for affection.

They dream of falling in love with someone and being able to stop feeling like they need to seduce someone to know their value. These people fall in love, but they have an innate “need” to know that they are still irresistible. This is when they start to feel tempted.

3. Not confessing their infidelity (or not being able to control it)

One of the most common traits in people who are unfaithful is that they think they can control everything. They think that if they cover it well enough, no one will see it.

In the previous letter to the infidelity specialist, the man explains, “I had almost completely forgotten about this event until one day, I was napping at my girlfriend’s house and she woke me by slapping me across the face.”

She had discovered his infidelity, and she wasn’t happy. After a while, they were able to resolve the issues and get back together, but her trust for him wasn’t the same as before.

4. What they’ve done will deprive them of freedom

People who cheat love freedom, and infidelity can be a way of using that freedom in their eyes. However, when one partner is unfaithful, the other will never give them the freedom or trust they once had.

This leads to future partners being unable to trust them, and leads to a life of imprisonment instead of freedom.

5. How much pain they caused their loved one because of their mistake

The chances of living happily ever after once an affair is discovered isn’t likely, but it’s possible. Statistics show that only 31% of marriages last after the affair has been discovered or admitted to.

People who are unfaithful to their partners regret causing their loved one so much pain and heartache. Even if the couple decides to stay together, it’s very hard for them to have a trust-based, happy relationship.

If you’re thinking about cheating, just don’t do it. You have everything to lose.

Mariel Reimann, FamilyShare

Mariel Reimann is the Content Director at KSL Latino. She’s studied law at the National University of Cordoba, currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah. Email: mreimann@ksl.com

https://www.peoplelooker.com/blog/how-to-get-over-someone-cheating/

Rental Poverty

Rental Poverty 

How much of your monthly income should go to rent?

https://www.chase.com/personal/banking/education/budgeting-saving

In the days when I lived and worked in the LA area, I lived in ‘The Valley’ (San Fernando Valley) and commuted into the ‘city’ to attend meetings, hearings, speak with people, so on. Part of my beat was Beverly Hills, Century City, Belair, West Hollywood, etc. All the very exclusive areas. I mostly used the 405 freeway, sometimes the 101 and some side streets. The commute to the city would start before 8 am and the commute back from the city began at about 2 pm. In all this stop and go traffic, I began to observe certain things.

What I began to see (when I paid attention) was the large number of pickup trucks, driven by men, with various tool boxes and gear in the back. I would see the trucks going south in the am and see the same type of vehicles going back north in the pm. Back ‘north’ was the Valley and then further north, Santa Carita, Canyon Country and further north, Victorville. I began to realize that the middle class folks, to include the butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers, could not afford the ‘city’ and were migrating north to affordable housing. In that commute, they were taking their skills with them.

It appeared that the 45 minute to 2 hour drive (depending on the time of day) was adequately offset by their work compensation so, they kept doing it. I began to realize something else. In Beverly Hills and neighborhoods of the like kind, the people who could afford to live there were the rich, the people who cleaned their toilets and washed their cars. No one else.

What happens when the housing is so expensive that no amount of commuting will offset the cost? There are areas in California now like Oakland, Santa Cruz, places in the Silicon Valley, where the cost of living is so great, they cannot attract workers. I was at the swimming pool recently and a young man shared that he had just taken an engineering job in that area. I know that he must be making pretty good money, however, he indicated the price of rent was ‘eating his lunch.’ I wonder how long he will last?

Three and a half years ago I left California, my home state, to come to Arizona. It had become  impossible to live on retired pay plus part-time jobs with the cost of living. When I came here my rent was a comfortable 26% of my salary. Now in just 3.5 yrs, it has jumped to an uncomfortable 34% of my salary. During the same time period, my salary cola increases have been 3%. That plus the rising cost of gas, I am having to check the fridge to see if I have enough food.

Who does this benefit? Well, the landlords of course. But what happens when the cost of living drives out your middle class and you don’t have anyone to fix your expensive houses, expensive cars and teach your children. Who wins? Try no one.

Greed has its price. One that I don’t think our society has even begun to calculate.

Article: Chase Bank

Ideally, your monthly rent payments should leave you with enough money left over for bills, groceries, a bit of non-essential spending, and even savings. Here’s how you can figure out how much of your income should go towards your monthly rent.

What percentage of income should go to rent?

The 30% rule

A popular standard for budgeting rent is to follow is the 30% rule, where you spend a maximum of 30% of your monthly income before taxes (your gross income) on your rent. This has been a rule of thumb since 1981, when the government found that people who spent over 30% of their income on housing were “cost-burdened.

Under 30%

The 30% rule is a general guideline that renters can follow, but they should also take into account other expenses and factors. For instance, if you have credit card debt or student loans to pay off, consider finding an apartment with rent below 30% of your monthly income, so you can put more of your budget toward reducing your debt.

Why you shouldn’t spend over 30% of your income on rent

If you have to spend over 30% per month on rent, you’ll have less money left over for bills and important purchases, making it more difficult to build savings. Make sure that your monthly rent payments don’t prevent you from paying off credit card debt or loans: your rent shouldn’t cause you to fall deeper in debt.

If 30% doesn’t work for you

The 30% rule does not always perfectly align with your budget. When determining how much you can reasonably pay in rent per month, there are some other things to consider before you say no.

Try the 50/30/20 rule

The 50/30/20 rule is a popular method to follow when determining your expenses in your monthly budget. The rule entails spending 50% of your monthly income on essential expenses such as rent, monthly bills, and groceries, spending 30% on non-essential purchases such as going out to eat, and putting 20% into your savings account. If your rent pushes above 30% of your gross income, by limiting your monthly bills, you may be able to keep rent + bills less than 50%.

Work down loans and debt

When you have considerable debt to pay each month, putting 30% of your income towards rent may still be too much. While finding a cheaper place to live can help you afford all of your essentials, consider working through debt reduction programs to shrink your monthly debt payments so you can put more money towards where you live.

Tidy up your spending habits

If you frequently eat out at restaurants, spend money on entertainment, or travel, consider how these expenses affect your monthly budget. If you would rather live in a more spacious apartment or more appealing neighborhood, cutting back on these extras can help you afford your new space.

Think about where you live

If you live in an expensive area, you may have to spend more than 30% of your monthly income on rent. To maintain a balance in your monthly budget, find ways to decrease your spending in other areas to live comfortably or find other areas to live in for less.

How to calculate 30% of your available income for rent

To find your gross monthly income, take a look at your most recent paycheck and find the line calling out “Gross Pay” (what you’re paid before taxes, health insurance, 401k, and any other benefits are removed from your pay).

Calculate your monthly Gross Pay

If you receive a paycheck every two weeks: Multiply your Gross Pay by 26 (to see your 52-week Gross Pay) then divide that number by 12 (to see your monthly Gross Pay).

If you receive a paycheck twice a month: Multiply your Gross Pay by 2 (to see your monthly Gross Pay).

Does 30% work for you?

If 30% of your Gross Pay is more than you’re currently paying each month in rent, then you’re at a safe level for housing. If 30% of your Gross Pay is less than your monthly rent, many financial professionals would suggest that you find a more affordable home

How to reduce your rent to 30% or less of your income

Split the rent with roommates

Sharing an apartment with roommates can help bring down the monthly rent costs per person. If you can find one or more roommates to comfortably share an apartment with, you immediately save a bit on your rent.

6/17/22 Courtney Webb

Russian Must not be Humiliated in Ukraine says Emmanuel Macron, French President

French president says door must be left open to allow for improvement in diplomatic relations after war

Macron has said Vladimir Putin made a ‘historic and fundamental’ error in invading Ukraine. Photograph: Julien de Rosa/EPA

Dan Sabbagh in Kyiv The Guardian

Sat 4 Jun 2022 10.54 EDT 

 

Russia must not be humiliated in Ukraine, Emmanuel Macron has said, to allow an improvement in diplomatic relations between the west and Moscow whenever the war comes to an end.

The French president said his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, had made a “historic and fundamental” error in invading Ukraine, but that nevertheless a wider escalation in hostilities had to be avoided.

Giving an interview to a group of regional newspapers in his home country, Macron said: “We must not humiliate Russia so that the day the fighting stops, we can build a way out through diplomatic channels.”

The role of France was to be that of “a mediating power”, the president added, saying he had put “time and energy” into ensuring the conflict did not escalate into a wider war, including negotiating with the Russian president.

“I have lost count of the conversations I have had with Vladimir Putin since December,” Macron said. They amounted to 100 hours’ worth, he added, which were “at the request of” Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Macron has consistently sought to engage directly with Putin and has repeatedly called for a ceasefire in the conflict, including on an 80-minute phone call at the end of last month with the Russian leader and the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz.

That has led to periodic accusations that the French leader wants Ukraine to make concessions to secure a peace agreement, although the Élysée Palace says any peace agreement must be negotiated between Putin and Zelenskiy, showing “due respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”.

None of the discussions, however, appear to have borne fruit. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine passed the 100-day mark on Friday, with little sign of the war ending amid heavy fighting in the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk.

Macron said he believed Putin had “isolated himself” and did not know what to do next. “Isolating oneself is one thing, but being able to get out of it is a difficult path,” the French president added.

Devine Tragedy – A Teenage Romance

Courtney E. Webb

Love Is In The Air: Love Stories by [Akshay Sonthalia , William "Brent" Heckler, Richard Saddlemire, Sawyer Stewart, Mark  Dobosz, Michael Calderwood, Sabrina Herrmann, Mary Binninger, Tureygua Inaru, Andrew Mengel]

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Akshay Sonthalia

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Love Is In The Air: Love Stories Kindle Edition

by Akshay Sonthalia  (Author), & 9 more  Format: Kindle Edition


See all formats and editions

A collection of this year’s best stories
With this collection of short stories and poems, Indian publisher Shail Raghuvanshi managed to immerse us in powerful words and characters that take you inside their hearts. In these snippets of life, you learn something about yourself, allowing you to bring some power into your own life.

From a ‘love story within a love story,’ magic on a stage, nostalgic memories, and smoky bar friendships, this collection provide profoundly empathetic portrayals of various human experiences.

You’ll laugh and cry as you sink into world after world, character after character. Love lost, love found, and love redeemed. Romantic love, platonic love, and the unexpected – all these stories and poems celebrate love just like it is in real life. First, you’ll forget yourself as you read. Then, upon surfacing, there is the possibility to know yourself and others anew.

‘Love is in the Air’ is a collection of 20 poignant love short stories and 9 feel-good love poems.

Mr. Right/Mr. Wrong – Getting Married

Courtney E. Webb – except from the book.

Love Is:

1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8a A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Meeting Mr. Right – The Five best places – good and bad

Meeting Mr. Right through friends: This can be a very good thing, often. It can also be….not so great. How many times have friends with really good intentions who insist on their need to set you up with a friend. And, to accommodate your friend(s) and to keep everyone happy, you go along with the date(s) and have a smile frozen on your face the entire time. Then, try to explain to the well intentioned friends, how do you say, “He’s just not the one.” It seems like no matter what you say, it’s the wrong thing. He’s their friend, right?

What’s the answer?

Maybe, the answer is just a few words beforehand with your friend(s) that you agree to go. However, if things don’t click you will let them know and please, maybe, no hurt feelings? At least, aim for that.

Meeting Mr. Right at Work: This is often a great place to meet the right guy. Why? It’s a neutral backdrop, you are both usually on somewhat the same footing. You can have a sense of security that the individual has been vetted, to an extent. That is not an iron clad guarantee that everyone you worked with is a poster child for mental wellness and health.

Dating the boss: Wow! Hot potato, this one.

Do real occasions of love occur between the boss and the worker? Yes, it can happen. It can also be a case of infatuation, also hero worship, seeing the man at his best, in his best clothes, shoes, haircut, teeth brushed, with the professional face on. The same can be said for you; the best clothes, hair done, makeup on, best shoes, etc. When you feel the love bubbles coming up, take a moment to image the same man, just getting out of bed; sleep in his eyes, bad breath, rumpled clothes, unruly hair and maybe grumpy. Just hold that mental image for a moment to have a brief reality check.

Is he married?

Many men don’t wear wedding rings for whatever reason. Most women wear wedding rings in the US, although in some other countries, even women don’t wear wedding rings. Also, many men are really good at hiding the fact that they are married. Examples: no wedding ring, no pictures of her or them on the desk. Also, no conversation or comments about her or them. And, this can be particularly the case when they are speaking to a single woman.

So, now what? Probably if there are really feelings there, I would suggest putting on the brakes before doing anything (sleeping together) and work at getting either transfered to some other unit or maybe another job. And if there is really something there, you will be having more conversations with this individual. You both need to decide how to resolve these (work/marriage) issues before things blow up and you (and he) end up as the center of the cafeteria gossip.

Lastly, many companies, institutions have written guidelines about these situations. The end point being that one or two people could end up losing their jobs over this stuff. So, walk with care.

Meeting Mr. Right in Social Settings:

Meeting at church:

I go church every week. I frequently go on Saturday evenings because that lets me either sleep in on Sunday or to get out and go hiking before it gets hot.

Almost every week I see a threesome sitting ahead of me. Because I am an observer of people, I quickly figure out that this is a mom and dad couple and their adult daughter. The daughter is the one I find the most interesting.

This young woman is in her twenties, somewhere, and resembles the mother very much. The mom and the daughter get up at the end of every service and do the collections together. Very commendable. Then the young lady sits down again with her parents and they all leave together.

Now, question. What chance does this young lady have to ever meet anyone when she is so glued to her parents? What is that about? Try none.

If you are in your teens, it is perfectly understandable to sit with your parents. Maybe even on holidays like Christmas, High Holy Days, etc. But the rest of the time? Chart your own path – different church, different times, so on.

Going to church is often not enough. Get involved. Do go to coffee, do go to dinners and mixers. Do go on retreats and conferences. Engage in activities that allow you to do more than just say “Hello” and “Goodbye.” What else are you doing with your time? Watching the next Netflix series?

Bars and Restaurants that serve alcohol:

Okay, drinking. Well, it is true that not every person who drinks in a bar is an alcoholic. There are people who actually go to bars to have fun and socialize. And, it is also not true that every marriage that had its start in a bar is doomed to failure. However; many people in bars and particularly, who are in bars on a regular basis, are alcoholic. Bars are their home away from home, maybe even their true home. If you find yourself out with the girls on a Friday night after work, looking to relax and unwind, it’s okay. But….is it every Friday night? Saturday night, Thursday night, Sunday night? Now, this is what we start to call a pattern. For you.

If you suspect there may be a problem, get out a calendar and chart, for a month, all the days you seem to gravitate to bars and restaurants where you and your friends drink. If it is a really regular pattern, you are starting to swim in deep waters and the water will only get deeper.

Break up the pattern and find other things to do. If your friends only want to go ‘hang out’ at bars, maybe you need to find some new friends. When I was working in South Korea, I would go out on Friday night with a group of teachers. We would end up in any one of local of bars. Even though I don’t drink, I would wake up on Saturday morning with a headache and feel for the rest of the day like I was swimming underwater. I can’t really explain it. Maybe it was all the cigarette smoke or just getting home at 2am. Whatever, I just didn’t like how I felt the next day.

When I started to resist going out to bars Friday after Friday, my betsy teacher friend dropped me. What was that all about? Well, clearly, it wasn’t about me. I ended up hanging with another group of friends who were also non-drinkers and who wanted to go out, eat somewhere and chat. In the end, I wound up having a much better time. And, no hang over!!!!

Lastly, if you feel like you just cannot resist the lure of the bright night-lights and the call of the drink, you may want to think about how big a piece of your life all this is taking. It might be time to talk to someone about it. And by someone, I don’t mean your mom or your girlfriend. They will just pat you on the arm and tell you not to worry. I mean someone who deals with addiction issues and there are lots of people and institutions like that in the phone book.

Dancing

Social dancing of all kinds is a really great way to meet new people. Generally, dance lessons at many places are group lessons and can be had for as little as $8 a lesson. You will need a pair of dance shoes (smooth soles) and a good attitude. You will be dancing with any number of instructors and ‘students’ who have been dancing for many years, and yes, they will be a lot better than you. Don’t be discouraged, hang tough, keep coming back and you will improve.

Dance is an excellent way to meet new men/women. Again, it is a ‘neutral’ setting (not yours and not his) and gives people a bit of social distance to decide if they have any real interest or not.

Gyms:

Gyms can be a great place to lift weights, take a swim, a sauna or take an aerobic dance class. They can also be good places to meet people. However, don’t go there just because you need a date. Gyms can get expensive and you don’t want to invest a bunch of money into something you are not really interested in. Find a sport or activity (swimming, tennis, racquetball, Zumba) that you like to do and pursue that. You are more likely to find like-minded people who share a common interest with you.

Online dating:

Well….. It’s okay but not my favorite. Why? Have I done online dating? Yes, I have. And, don’t believe the rumors that Prince Harry met Meghan online, they were introduced through friends.

I have done online dating, and what have I learned? For starters, about 40% of men online are married and are looking to ‘fool around.’ Many men online are looking for quick, cheap (no strings attached) sex. There are men online who are not who and what they say they are. I have met any number of men who post photos of themselves that were taken twenty or thirty years previously. Then, you meet the man and say “Is this even the same person?” Online sites are notorious for spawning online money scams. I ‘met’ such an individual, tall, good looking, French, engineer, hum….interesting. It was all interesting until he asked me for $500 to help bail out his daughter who was stranded someone without funds.

And, if you think it is only women getting scammed, news reports are filled with scam stories involving men and women. One of my best male friends talked about going on dates and not being able to recognize the woman he eventually met in person.

You would almost be better off with your Dungeons and Dragons nerdy Thursday group.

Other:

There are always other ways to meet people and make friends. John Lennon met Yoko Ono at an art gallery showing. You can met people in the grocery stores, at concerts, in the mall, in galleries, walking your dog, etc. One of the best ways to meet people that ensures a bit of light conversation are volunteer opportunities.

Last Thanksgiving, I volunteered to work at the Salvation Army dinner for two days. There were tons of guys working those shifts. Many were married, but not all of them. And, you are there together working for a common cause, the common good and it all feels right. It can also be a lot of fun!

PART TWO – GETTING CLOSER

He asks you to go to Singapore. Or, Palm Beach, or Palm Desert or the beach or the desert or to coffee.

The point is, he is asking you if you want to do something, in the future, with him. In an abundance of caution, many men will structure ‘dates’ as group activities with other people. This can be church, choir, coffee groups, and movies, whatever. It’s okay. It takes off some of the pressure of ‘too much togetherness, too soon.’ After all, what do the two of you have to talk about….yet? Group hikes and walks are wonderful ways to get to know other people. The atmosphere is relaxed, you’re outside, and the sun is on your face. A wonderful way for you and your ‘date’ to let your guard down and to be yourself.

There are numerous dating sites online that are good and have pretty good advice. On YouTube, I like Matthew Hussey Dating Advice, which is good listening for young women. For older women, I like Engage at Any Age – Jaki Sabourin. YouTube can be a good source for men too, getting back in the game. Think of it like putting oil in the engine.

Matthew Hussey is sincere, has been doing this for a while and is a very straight shooter. For older women, who face different challenges with men, it is a good site to review to realize other people are having similar problems and to not get completely discouraged and give up hopes of ever dating again.

Back to he asks if you will be on the hike (board game, choir meeting, church service, etc.) next Sunday. You say yes and go.

Then what? Is this a DATE or a date? It is a date (small letters). This is a getting to know you date which is way different from a we-have-been-dating-six-months-and-it’s Valentine’s Day date.

This is a getting-to-know-you date. Let’s not overwhelm everyone with expectations and demands. If you go on the hike and get along, as has been referenced in several YouTube dating sites, don’t turn it into: let’s have coffee, let’s go to dinner, come over to my place, boom!

Don’t do it. Allow the date and your partner, to process thinking and feelings about you. Also, likewise, allow yourself some time to process your feelings. Are you interested? A little, some, a lot? None? Again, let’s stop thinking desperation, I have to grab the first person I can get! If we think in desperation terms, everything is black or white, the end result will be a sure reflection of that thinking. Desperate!

So, if the ‘date’ is coffee, you can say yes and casually ask some other people to go along. The presence of others softens the occasion so it doesn’t run the risk of becoming Too Important!!!! If that doesn’t feel right, just be clear in your own mind that this is a date only. Don’t expect a marriae proposal!

You ask

You ask him to go to a group breakfast, lunch (not dinner – too formal), a group hike, walk, volunteer event. You are there in your natural element, you are with friends, and you are relaxed. The very best setting to be in. You are your best self. This is the perfect backdrop for conversation. It’s not too formal, not too dressed up and not too ‘special’. Unlikely that your parents or other relatives will be there looking over your shoulder and asking pointed questions like “Who is that guy?” Which then leads to more awkward questions and answers like “Just a guy,” “A friend.” At which point, someone (your mother) begins to roll her eyes and sigh. Jeese, who needs that pressure?

As a matter of fact, while we are on that point, keep most of your dates away from your parents (family) unless you want your mother to run out and start buying all the latest issues of Wedding magazine. Give everyone, including yourself, a break.

MOVING APART

Is there such thing as love at first sight? Well, maybe. Personally, I think it is more like attraction at first sight and that can certainly happen. Love…hum.

People need to process.

I compare this to making coffee in a drip pot. You put in to ground beans, you pour in the cold water and then…you wait and let it drip. After waiting the appropriate amount of time, viola! You have coffee.

This really applys to many men. Compare this process of making coffee to the brains of a lot of men. You pour the information in, you let it sink in and then….they process and you….wait.

How can I miss you if you never go away? To quote that old song. How can your potential partner either miss you, think about you, consider the relationship, make decisions about the relationship if you never leave them alone to think? Again, don’t overwhelm the person. Allow time for them to process feelings, about you, about themselves.

It may mean that after two (little) dates the man may decide – not interested. It may be after knowing you in the hiking group, the choir, the church group, the class, the whatever. This person may like you but not enough. Not enough to take the thing to the next level, to continue seeing you, to make it more serious.

Wow! That hurts doesn’t it? It’s called rejection and that is why it is so difficult for guys at a dance to ask a girl to dance (unless they have been drinking). They are terrified of rejection.

However; let us think about this rejection thing. Does it hurt? Yes. Were we interested, yes? What has it really done to us other than make us feel badly (for a while) and get our feelings hurt (some?) If the ultimate goal is long term relationship, engagement, marriage…do we really want to throw ourselves (physically) into a relation where, ultimately, we get dumped? Is that not harder on us, more socially embarrassing, more difficult on family and friends who were thinking, ‘Maybe she found someone this time?’ Does it not really take less of a toll on our emotions and physic?

There are all kinds of movies and books that catalogue the lover who can’t take no for an answer (Fatal Attraction – Mike Douglas). Books and movies on the subject are too numerous to count. Don’t be one of those very sad people. Learn to take and accept reject as just part of the dating game. Also remember, that probably more than once you have dished it out too. So, adopt a philosophy about it, such as, Not Meant to Be or your own version. We don’t always see the total global plan and something better just might be around the corner.

THE BOOTIE CALL

And I’d really like to see you tonight – England Dan and John Ford Coley

Look it up girls, it’s on YouTube. It’s a very famous and very romantic song about having a relationship with no ties and no real future, but, he would really like to see her tonight. Of course.

Is it a booty call? If you are asking yourself that question, it probably is. Now, if you are really in the need of a bootie call, you know the person, you have taken proper precautions (you know what they are, you learned this in junior high,) then enjoy the time together. You might feel really good and energized for days after.

However; girls, do not engage in endless romantic fantasies about this and what it means. Do not start shopping for rings and white dress fabric. This is the time to confide in your best friend. Ask questions. “Do you think this is just a physical thing?” Your best friend (not your mother) is probably the one who will be straight with you. She is the one who is mostly likely to say “Yes, sweetheart, that is exactly what this is.” Ouch. Once again, slightly hurt feelings.

Let’s go back to the idea of, is the PM (potental mate) really interested? Ask yourself: does he talk about the future, does that future include you, you and him together, does he make plans that include you? Are you meeting his friends, his co-workers, his family? Do you only see him at night, at his convenience and mostly, at your place? Do you ever go out to eat, go to the movies, walk in the park, etc., normal things that normal people do? Do these get togethers almost always exclusively revolve around sex and perhaps, a fair amount of alcohol?

Okay, then. Put on a few Band-Aids. You have had some fun. Don’t confuse this ‘relationship’ for a real relationship. Also, don’t waste a lot of time with this guy. Be prepared to move on at a moment’s notice. You are after all looking for Mr. Right and not Mr. Right now. If he keeps calling you, ignore the calls. He will get the message. After all, he wants what he wants and if not you, then….

If he is particularly persistent, you might have to change your phone. Sigh. Ah, me. Keeps life interesting.

Who Do You Call – Ghost Busters!

Suppose for a moment that you have a nice extended family; mom, dad, sister, brother, friends, so on. Usually speaking, if something weird happens ( you get the flu, Covid, run out of gas, have a foot in a cast and so on) you can call on one of these people for gasoline, water, juice and so on, as needed. Great, right?

Let’s imagine another scenario. Mom and Dad are on vacation, your brother has moved out of state and your sister and her new husband went on the cruise with Mom and Dad. Your friends are all busy, busy working. You run out of gas, break your toe, lose your house key – who do you call?

Someone who will help you out, willingly, no strings attached, without resentment and with no real expectations of payback (sexual or otherwise.) Do you have such a person in your life? I have found, more times than one, the people or person I could call was a gay friend, not a straight friend. I have had a number of gay friends in my life, both male and female. They have been uniformly the most giving and caring people I have met. When I really need a friend, and I really hate to ask for this thing (whatever it is), my gay friends step up when I would never, ever think of asking a straight guy the same thing.

Unfortunately, straight guys seem to mix up almost everything with sex. The slightest effort at conversation at the gym is translated into some kind of pick up line. It had gotten to be so bad for me, I rarely speak to men anymore unless they speak to me first. I have been dancing at social mixers when my partner (of five minutes) is at pains to explain to me how married he is. I do believe the next time a man does that I promise to say “Oh good, well then, you should certainly be dancing with her,” and just walk off the floor. Men confuse niceness with sexual aggressiveness all the time. Can’t tell if is fear on their part or wishful thinking.

Anyway, when you run out of gas, and need a lift, you don’t want to feel like you have to ‘pay’ for your mistake later down the line. Now, maybe you do have a friend you can call (of either sex) who is willing to help you out. Good and cherish that friendship because there aren’t many like that out there.

THE ALPA MALE – SPORTS

Let’s face it, what woman doesn’t crave a big, strong man-virile and husky? It harkens back to the cave hunter days when men used to hunt down dinner and drag it home.

Of course, these days we mostly don’t live on the veldt and big game hunting is sort of passing out of style…still. In modern day’s terms, how does the modern man recapture those he-man hunting days? Sports!

Any of you that spent time recently watching the Super Bowl would have to admit, I believe, that the rough and tumble of the playing field today is just about a brutal as any historic caveman would have wanted. Now, for the sidelines, us.

Tune into ESPN any day of the week (while you’re at the gym on the treadmill) and you will have a chance to enjoy a mind numbing array of programs, announcers, presenters, athletes, father of athletes, coaches, team members and so on. And on and on. Who can keep up with all the names and numbers? The entire field of sports, sports figures, their satistics and lives are daunting. Is this is what is required to be the good girl friend?

No. No more would most guys expect you to go hunting in a duck blind or ice fishing in a hut. They love that stuff! Let them have it and enjoy, don’t be jealous, you would hate it! However, if you ever expected your boyfriend to go with you to a chick flick (The Proposal, The Notebook, Jungle Cruise, all Disney movies,) you need to give the Devil his due.

Important Dates: Super Bowl Sunday. Usually in February. This is the High Holy Days of sports. To miss (or dismiss) this day is almost sacrilege. Mark it on your calendar, make it an event. Someone almost always hosts a party; go, take a dish, invite your girlfriends. Make it an event and even you might learn a little about football and be able to carry a one minute conversation about the game.

Kentucky Derby Day (May) – big with horse fans. Again, host a party, women wear hats, serve mint julips. Have fun and while the men are screaming at the horses you can casually fan yourself and sip iced tea.

Opening day for baseball. (Summer) Do you have to go to every game? No. But opening day is big. Get tickets for a local team, maybe college. The pro-games are priced for, well, pros. Again, make it an event, invite friends, he invites his friends. Maybe one of your girlfriends will meet someone nice. Win-win. Check it off your list.

Football/soccer – opening day (fall). Again, every game? Not hardly, but how about at least one; he will love you for it. Go before it gets too freezing cold. Men love that stuff. Once you have done your duty, you can snuggle, guilt free at home with a good romance novel and paint your nails!

Sports for you – in the interest of keeping the weight down and the healthy flush to your cheeks, you too should have at least one sport. Something you like, not something you hate because then you won’t do it. Explore and experiment, what do you like? Walking, power walking, hiking, swimming, biking, bowling? Try your hand and see what you gravitate too. If you try to ‘stick’ to something you really hate, (example) 10 speed racing, to meet men, you will get discouraged and give up. If you meet ‘him’ at one of these events, he will become disappointed that you don’t want to do this event anymore. Give both of you a break, keep to what is real for you.

Continued on in the book. cew

Read more of Courtney’s writing in:
https://sites.google.com/view/webbywritercom/page-5?authuser=0
Also: Amazon/Kindle

House Votes Yea on raising Age to 21 for Purchase of Assault Rifles.

NEWSWEEK

House Votes ‘Yea’ on Raising Age to 21 for Purchase of Assault Rifles

BY JAKE THOMAS ON 6/8/22 AT 6:37 PM EDT

Watch: House Votes ‘Yea’ On Raising Age To 21 For Purchase Of Assault Rifles

The House of Representatives has approved legislation in favor of raising the age to purchase a military-style rifle, like the one used in Uvalde, Texas, to 21.

Lawmakers voted 228-199 to include the provision in a package of gun control measures approved earlier by the House Judiciary Committee. The vote comes in response to pressure for Congress to respond to a string of mass shootings, including a massacre at Robb Elementary School on May 24 in Uvalde. While the measure passed with some Republican support, it faces an uncertain future in the evenly divided Senate.

The House of Representatives voted 228-199 in favor of a provision raising the age to buy military-style guns to 21. Here, Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat, speaks to the House Oversight and Reform Committee following testimony about gun violence on June 8, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Representative Anthony Brown, the Maryland Democrat who authored the provision, said on the House floor that shooters in massacres in Uvalde, Buffalo, New York, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and others were committed by males under age 21.

“Right now, you must be 21 in this country to buy a handgun, and you only need to be 18 years old to buy a semiautomatic rifle capable of committing unspeakable tragedies,” Brown said on the floor. “I served in the military. I trained with these weapons. I know what they can do. These weapons of war have no place in our neighborhoods, let alone in the hands of an untrained 18-year-old boy.”

While he said the legislation wouldn’t stop the country’s gun violence problem, it would be worth it if it “can save one life or one community from this carnage.”

ADVERTISING

Title I of the Protecting Our Kids Act prohibits federally licensed federal gun dealers from selling to anyone under the age of 21 any “semiautomatic centerfire rifle or semiautomatic centerfire shotgun that has, or has the capacity to accept, an ammunition feeding device with a capacity exceeding 5 rounds.”

……………………………………………….

Will Humble of the AZ Public Health Association also supports background checks on individuals, a three day waiting period and would perfer that we raise the age to buy these weapons to 25 years. Although he recognizes this is not likely to happen; he indicates the 3 day waiting period will help reduce the number of suicides and the background checks will help reduce the number of homicides.

Action definitely needs to be taken. There is a big difference between the militia men of 1776 and the assault rifles of today. cew

Arizona settlement with Johnson and Johnson – Opioids

Johnson & Johnson and Distributors Settlements

In August 2021, Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced his office has conditionally signed on to a proposed $26 billion national settlement with Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – and Johnson & Johnson, which manufactured and marketed opioids. Final details, including a critical mass of states and political subdivisions nationally, are necessary to finalize the settlement.

If finalized, Arizona as a whole would receive up to $549 million from the settlement and the money would be used for opioid treatment, prevention, and education, in compliance with the One Arizona Plan, described above. Read more on the One Arizona Plan.

Funding Overview:

  • Nationally, the three distributors (Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen) collectively will pay up to $21 billion over 18 years.
  • Nationally, Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over nine years with up to $3.7 billion paid during the first three years.
  • The total funding distributed will be determined by the overall degree of participation by both litigating and non-litigating state and local governments.
  • After attorneys’ fees and costs, the money is to be spent on opioid treatment and prevention.
  • Arizona’s share of the national funding has been determined by an agreement among the states using a formula that takes into account the impact of the crisis on the state and the population of the state.

Injunctive Relief Overview:

  • The 10-year agreement also requires Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen to:
    • Establish a centralized independent clearinghouse to provide all three distributors and state regulators with aggregated data and analytics about where drugs are going and how often, eliminating blind spots in the current systems used by distributors.
    • Use data-driven systems to detect suspicious opioid orders from customer pharmacies.
    • Terminate customer pharmacies’ ability to receive shipments, and report those companies to state regulators, when they show certain signs of diversion.
    • Prohibit shipping of and report suspicious opioid orders.
    • Prohibit sales staff from influencing decisions related to identifying suspicious opioid orders.
    • Require senior corporate officials to engage in regular oversight of anti-diversion efforts.
  • The 10-year agreement requires Johnson & Johnson to:
    • Stop selling opioids.
    • Not fund or provide grants to third parties for promoting opioids.
    • Not lobby on activities related to opioids.
    • Share clinical trial data under the Yale University Open Data Access Project.

In order for the multistate settlement to be finalized, a critical mass of participating states and local governments will need to sign on.

The text of the full proposed Johnson & Johnson and Distributors’ settlements can be found on the settlement administrator’s website.

Important information for counties, cities, and towns: The national settlement administrator will mail additional information and voting instructions on the proposed Johnson & Johnson and Distributors settlements to Arizona counties, cities, and towns beginning the week of September 20, 2021.

Other AGO Opioids Actions

  • 2005 N Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004 | Email: Contact Us | P

Pony – Part II

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Azim’s shoulders sagged and he laid the comb back on its shelf.

“Tomorrow, Flower.” He had named her himself. Flower or Flower of the Desert he was to call her.

 The next day, Azim bolted his breakfast, splashed water on his face and got through morning prayers with one eye on the door. The moment they were done, he ran out the door, two green apples bulging in his pockets.

He ran for the barn and carefully unwound the rope tie and ran to his horse. Sal-gal was slowly munching again. Azim could see that Mohammad had already been in the barn and left a small wooden stool there with oats on the top. Sal was eating the oats.

Azim grabbed the comb again and started on her tail. It was a worse mess than her mane, if that was possible. Sal ignored him and only kicked lightly once when he pulled an obnoxious burr out. Azim murmured to her and she flicked her tail and turned to look at him once. Then, she went back to her oats like he wasn’t there.

Azim just could not bear to leave her so he stayed, puttering about. Later, Salim also showed up.  During the day, various people from the village, curious about the new arrival, showed up to see. Salim became the unofficial tour guide and told the story over and over again about how the pony had been found in the desert by his father, close to the railway tracks.

They all wanted to know about the rider of the pony. There were many long looks and shakings of the heads.

Azim’s mother and sister’s tended the soldier night and day for nearly a weak. The young man was very, very sick.                                                           

By the third day, Azim kept after his father that Flower needed fresh air and exercise. It was a buoyant Azim and Salim who, after Mohammad fitted the bit back in Sal’s mouth, were allowed to lead her around the village. People came out to look at her and admire. She was such a beauty.

After she had been cleaned thoroughly with water, Mohammad got out some of his special oils.

“These are from my horse who died. You remember him don’t you, Salim?” Mohammad asked his son. Salim nodded. “Yeah, I miss him, every day.” 

The man gazed into the distance, remembering. He allowed the boys to brush the oils into her coat and hooves. Now, clean and with a lightly oiled sheen, Sal-gal gleamed in all her chestnut glory. The mane was clean as well as her tail.

Azim’s sisters got into the act and got some wildflowers to put in the horse’s mane. He thought it was silly, but they insisted.

“It’s a girl,” they said to him. “Girls wear flowers.” He grimaced but allowed it.

Each morning, mother had allowed him two hard apples for Flower and then, to his amazement, a couple of carrots were added. Ali raced to the barn and fed Flower by hand stroking her forelock and murmuring to her.                                                                                                                     #

On the fourth day, mother came out of the bedroom and spoke to his father.

“The fever has broken. I think he will be alright now. He is young and healthy.”

Omar nodded to her and went out to find Mohammad. The two men met and walked to the edge of the village.

“He’s a soldier,” Omar told his friend.

“Yes, from the military camp,” Mohammad replied. “French?”

“No, English, I think. He was muttering in English,” Omar said.

The two men nodded.

“We have to take him back.” They both nodded. “And the horse.” Omar glanced sideways at his friend knowing full well the man’s love of horses.

There was a pause.

“I am sorry, Omar, the boy…”

“The boy will live. There will be other horses,” Omar picked his words carefully.

“Well, yes.” Mohammad thought about his own ancient animal, recently deceased. “Of course, other horses …” He paused thinking.  “You will tell him?”

 “Yes, we can go to the camp together? Take the boys?”

 “Yes, I think they would like that,” Mohammad sounded resigned.

Sadly, Omar returned home. He would have to talk to his son.                                                                                                                                 #

That evening, Omar left the barn. Azim was inside crying. Omar decided to leave the boy for a while. There was nothing else to be done.

He got home. Fatima looked at him. “He’ll be okay,” he told her. “He just needs some time.”

Fatima took a bowl of soup from the kitchen and walked it back to the bedroom. The soldier could almost sit up by himself now. She would feed him a little soup.

Later that evening, Omar and Fatima walked quietly to the barn. Omar opened the door and they peeked in. Azim was asleep, curled up in the straw next to his horse. Sal-gal stood with her head down, she was close to the boy and they saw her reach over and nuzzle him once. As quietly as they came, they closed the door and left.                                                                                                       #

The next day, early, Omar, Mohammad, Azim, and Salim got ready for their trip. It was decided that they would all travel together to the military compound. The expensive leather saddle had been cleaned, oiled and scrubbed until it shone. The silver buckles and points gleamed in the early morning sun.

Mohammad, who was considered the best rider in the village, had the honor of riding Sal-gal/Flower. Azim would ride in the saddle behind him. Omar and Salim would follow, each on the smaller village donkeys. Azim’s mother and sisters had prepared food for the trip. Leather flasks of water were filled up. Dates and raisins were in little pouches, falafel and goat cheese were in another pouch.

One would think they would be gone three days. In truth, the compound was only about twenty miles away. The men were sure they would be there before late afternoon. Sal-gal responded to her new rider like the champ she was and obeyed commands that Mohammad fearfully gave her. The two got used to each other after a few miles. Soon, it wasn’t just Azim who regretted this trip, Mohammad was having second thoughts about giving this excellent pony back to the British.

“If we just made the soldier disappear, who would know? I could keep this beautiful horse. I need to speak to Omar again.” Mohammad’s thoughts whirled like angry animals through his head.

Midday, the group rested, and Azim led Flower to the watering hole and stroked her neck. He murmured to her and picked tiny bits out of her mane. She nuzzled him and he held onto her head. Silent tears began to run down his cheeks. Omar came over and put an arm on his son’s shoulders. One little tear fell down his cheek too. Azim laid down close to his pony and closed his eyes.

He was awakened by the sound of arguing. He looked over and saw his father and Mohammad having a heated discussion several yards away. Mohammad was waving his arms and gesturing toward Flower. His father, arms crossed over his chest just kept shaking his head no. Finally, Mohammad walked away, clearly fuming with his arms stuck akimbo on his hips. Azim closed his eyes again.                                                                                                                                                                                #

By late afternoon, the odd group were entering the gates of the military compound. A British guard on duty sent for the Arabic interpreter. The soldiers at the gate were instantly suspicious of village people bringing in what was obviously a pony belonging to one of their junior officers.

Much rapid-fire conversation commenced and one of the guards silently took the reins of Sal-gal from Omar. Azim still stayed glued to the horses’ side.

“We need to take this to the commander, toute suite,” the one guard said to the other.

The entire group, Sal-gal, donkeys, et. al, proceeded through the camp to a small whitewashed building at the far side of the gate.

Mohammad thought to himself, Maybe they’ll be so grateful for what we have done, they’ll give us the horse as a reward!  He was to be disappointed.

The interpreter went with one of the soldiers and the others stood outside. When the village men started to climb the steps, the soldier put his hand out to stop them.

“Wait here,” he told them.

The two men and the two boys waited. There was the sound of conversation inside. In a few moments, a big man, dressed a lot like the soldier in Fatima’s bedroom came out. He had dark hair and a thin mustache. He was imposing and looked very no-nonsense. A younger man, in the same dress, was with him.

“What’s all this?” His eyebrows went up.

More rapid-fire conversation.

“I believe they are Bedouin’s sir. From a local village. They found a soldier.”

“Lt. Nelson, you think?” The older man asked.

His aide de camp nodded.

“He’s been missing for days.”

“Looks like he fell ill, sir.” The aide told the commander in a low voice. “They found him unconscious.”

“They did, did they?” Was the commander’s reply. He began walking down the steps followed closely by his aide de camp.

The men understood nothing the commander said to them. The interpreter began babbling to them. At this point, the villagers all nodded their collective heads up and down rapidly.

“Ah,” the Commander commented and walked over to Sal-gal.

He walked around the pony, looking at her face, picking up her feet, looking at those. He circled the pony entirely and patted her on the neck.

“And you took care of his horse, too?”

More interpreting, much more nodding of the heads.

“Well,” the commander looked back at his assistant, “she looks to be in pretty good shape. Better, actually,” he laughed. “Better I think than when Nelson was taking care of her. Ha!” He smoothed his mustache.

“And you still have him? Nelson, I mean?” The commander asked.

More translating and more nodding of heads.

“Well then,” the commander turned and looked at his aide, “I guess we’ll have to go get him.” The aide nodded.

“But,” the Commander looked at the sky, “getting late. And, it seems to me these gentlemen have rendered a service to the British Army. Not in a case of conflict, of course, but in rescuing both a junior officer and his,” he stopped to give Sal-gal a little pat, “his very valuable Army property. Tom, let’s invite these men in for some food and drink and start this trip tomorrow morning.”

The aide de camp talked to the interpreter who gave the message to the villagers who looked uncertainly around. With some deal of coaxing, the men ascended the steps and were led to the mess hall in the same building.

Tom, the aide de camp came over to his boss and whispered, “The boy wants to go with the horse.”

“What?”

“The boy,” Tom pointed, “wants to go with the horse.”

“Ah, I see.” The commander looked over at the skinny kid standing next to Sal-gal’s reins. He could easily read the forlorn look. “Okay, Tom, tell the stable master I said it was okay. Take the kid a plate of something.”

Tom nodded to Azim and waved for the boy to follow him. Tom handed the reins to the kid who clutched them in his fist. The two walked silently to the stables.                                                                                                                                          #

Later, dinner was served, and the villagers took off their shoes and left them at the door. There were snickers and asides from the men who came into eat. They received the parental glare from their chief.  In a few moments, the aide de camp clinked his glass with a spoon. The commander stood up.

“Ah, yes. I would like to say, men, that my guests,” he cast a gimlet eye on the assembled troops, “my guests, here are from the local village a few miles from here. It appears a few days ago, from what I understand, Lt. Nelson, out on patrol was struck with some kind of fever, fell from his horse, and was rescued by these men.” He waved in their direction. “He has been taken to their village and nursed back to health. For these things, we need to thank them.” The commander began to applaud, and his troops quickly joined in.

The villagers practically blushed and bowed many times. The interpreter was busy telling them what was said. The men even ate some of the food offered to them.

After dinner, the commander summoned Tom over.

“Where’s that kid?”

Tom jerked his head. “He’s still in the stable, sir.”

“Hum,” the commander nodded. “Entertain our guests if you would Tom and get them a place to sleep for the night.”

Tom nodded and turned to the interpreter again.

The commander got up and walked outside. It was another starry night in the desert, the full moon had passed, and a half moon hung in the sky. A light breeze stirred the desert sand and he could smell jasmine faintly in the air. He lit a cigar.

Quietly for such a big man, he approached the stables and went in.

The stable master was in his cramped little office finishing up some paperwork.

“The boy?” the commander asked.

The master jerked his head to the back of the stable.

The commander walked back and came to the last stall and stopped. There, Sal-gal was standing, her saddle and reins were off, and she was contentedly munching hay. The skinny kid he had seen before had an old wire brush in one hand and was stroking down her side. He was talking to the pony in a low voice and occasionally she would whinny back.

The commander had his cigar in one hand and puffed on it thoughtfully. He stood there a few moments.  The kid never seemed to notice him.

I wonder, he thought to himself, turned and left.

He went back to the main building and back to the camp mess. The villagers were being served tiny cups of coffee by the interpreter. Apparently, from his own private stock. They all seemed to be relaxed now and enjoying themselves.

The commander sat down a little distance away and waved to his aide. The younger man separated himself and came up.

“Sir?”

“Ah, Tom. Um…tell the interpreter to tell the men,” he gestured loosely at the group, “that we might need the services of a water boy in the stable.”

Tom ogled at his boss a moment. “A water boy, sir? We’ve never had…”

“Tell him, Tom.” The older man puffed on his cigar.

Tom turned, went, and sat down next to the interpreter and started speaking. There commenced a great deal of conversation and waving of hands. This went on for some minutes. Tom got up and went back to his boss.

“They say it depends completely on the mother. She cannot lose her oldest son.”

“Right, tell them there is very little money involved, mostly room and board but the boy will be able to work with the horses every day. Maybe learn to ride.” The commander puffed some more.

Tom went back and conveyed the message. More conversation and waving of hands. The villagers did not look directly at the commander but confided their comments to the interpreter and Tom.

Tom came back. “They will have to go home to discuss it.”

“Understood,” the commander said. He got up and bowed. “Salaam.”

The villagers bowed to him in return, “Salaam,” they all said.                                                                                                                                                         #

The next day, two jeeps and several British soldiers followed the directions given to them by the interpreter and Omar, the father of Azim. As a treat, they let the kid ride in the jeep, and he helped point the way. Azim held his face into the wind and grinned the whole way home, hair whipping in his face. 

On the return trip, Mohammad rode one of the donkeys. Perhaps Allah will be very good to us and the soldier will get sick again and die this time. He smiled broadly at the thought.

In a few hours, they were able to locate the village. Omar led them to Junior Officer Nelson who was now well enough to walk.

At the village, numerous thank yous were exchanged on both sides. The mother and sisters all kissed Nelson on the cheek and pressed gifts of dates, nuts, and raisins into his hands. He turned red from the attention and got stiffly into the back of the jeep.

More bowing occurred. Tom, aide de camp, separated himself from the others and dragged the interpreter into the house of Omar and Fatima. They conveyed the offer from the Commander again. Fatima looked stunned and just stared at her husband.

Tom nodded, bowed, and said. “Your decision, ma’am, of course.” With that he turned and left the tiny plaster house followed by the interpreter.  

Getting back in the jeep he turned to Nelson. “Well, soldier, you have had quite the ride, sir.”

A wan Nelson, holding his side, nodded briefly. In a cloud of dust, the two jeeps drove off.                                                                                                                    #

One month later, the commander walked into the stable.

“Mr. Gleason let me present your new stable boy. This is Azim.”

Azim stepped forward timidly and bowed.

“Do he speak any English, sir?”

“Not a word, not a drop.”

“Well, sir …”

“We talked about this, Gleason. He’s a sharp lad, he’ll pick it up quick and any real problems, ask the interpreter.”

“Ah, sir …”

“Good for public relations, Gleason. You’re doing your part. Plus,” the commander turned to leave, “he is a whiz with horses.”

“Oh, well,” the older man sighed. “Okay, kid …” Gleason looked at the skinny kid in front of him, “we are going to show you the shovel. That’s s-h-o-v-e-l. Understand?”

Azim bounced on his toes and nodded his head furiously.

Gleason showed him the shovel and the bucket. Azim got to work immediately.

When Gleason shuffled back to his office, muttering, Azim, stopped, peeked around the corner and tip toed down the to last stall. There were two green apples in his pockets.

“Flower,” he said.

There was a whinny.

Finis    -    النهاية
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