Category Archives: Community

Oakland Historic District

I took a walk in the neighborhood near my office this week. It is full of colorful personality:

Neighborhood Walk

Neighborhood Walk

Neighborhood Walk

Neighborhood Walk

Neighborhood Walk

Neighborhood Walk

Neighborhood Walk

Neighborhood Walk

Neighborhood Walk

Neighborhood Walk

Neighborhood Walk

Neighborhood Walk

Neighborhood Walk

 

One woman saw me taking photos and waved her hands. When I looked over, she said, “Take a picture of my house! It burned down and we rebuilt and now WE GOT GHOSTS!”

I smiled and took a photo, much to her delight.

Phoenix, you are a delightfully weird beast.

~K

Give Thanks

{This series of posts is intended to provide practical, easy ways to help your community — regardless of your location. In celebration of Thanksgiving and the pending holidays, may we want less and love more.}

Downtowner in Flag

 

Last week I met the new executive director of Flagstaff Shelter Services. She’s young, dynamic and, well … pissed. The need for fair, safe, affordable housing this northern Arizona city proves quite the challenge. As Rolling Stone once put it, “Flagstaff is poverty with a view.”

Indeed.

Flagstaff is like many, many cities around the world. There are too few jobs, too many people and a lot of folks living on the street. Flag has a couple big employers, and for everyone, an exhausting combination of white and blue collar jobs to get by. This town could be Golden, Colorado. Kearney, Nebraska. Galway, Ireland. Its poverty and hunger are not unique.

I’m not any more prepared to solve all the factors to this mountain town’s homelessness issue. I can, however, point out a few ways we can all help homeless shelters in any community.

1. Ask. Talk with staff and see what the biggest need is. Flagstaff needs toilet paper. They spend $500 a week now, which is not sustainable for a fragile budget and increasing client lists.

2. Donate without restriction. Sure, we all want our funds to go to program expenses. But someone has to pay for the copy toner too.

3. You’ve got talents your local community shelter needs. Could you mend blankets? Write a grant? Shingle the roof? Don’t be shy. If you can focus your strengths to make the organization better, everyone wins. Be specific when asking to volunteer.

typical Flag

What do we really need this holiday season?

~K

Horns

When I saw this paper mache deer head at the craft store, I knew I wanted to paint it. I wasn’t sure why, but I loved it. And so, for a few bucks and a couple coats of paint…

Around the hacienda

Around the hacienda

The first Christmas decoration is up. (Because, you know. In Tempe we see lots of deers.) The simplicity of this does delight me, however.

~K

Roast!

This week I went to a Hatch chile roasting party at the Tucker’s house. The smell of roasting chiles might be my very favorite. (And I may have awkwardly said more than once during dinner that I would, “wear that scent as a perfume! No. Really!”

Hatch chile roasting party

Hatch chile roasting party

Hatch chile roasting party

Hatch chile roasting party

Hatch chile roasting party

Hatch chile roasting party

Hatch chile roasting party

Future meatloaf and enchiladas will now be extra yummy. For locals: chiles are on sale 3 pounds for $1 at Food City. Get them while you can! The smokey, spicy flavor of backyard roast peppers is far richer than the canned variety.

~K

Late July in the Desert

Americans just say prickly pear

 

This morning, Nelson and I made our rounds in the neighborhood as the morning sun peaked over the eastern Valley’s mountains, greeting us with rays climbing high through wispy clouds. Phoenix in July is, to put it mildly, rather toasty. Today’s high is expected to be 109. The desert being hot in summer is no more news than Stockholm being darn right chilly come January.

As we wandered, I considered what makes this time of year different — if you stop to notice. For example, those morning clouds. By this time of year, there are typically only two types of clouds: those thin, barely there streaks of white so high, they trace the sky like faint cobwebs. Or, their alter egos: the fat, gray to pearl white, angry monster monsoon clouds that grow and climb like waves, higher and higher, like smoke rising. With any luck, these beasts crack — sending a flood of water and relief to the desert floor, shaking us all, temporarily. During an even brief monsoon rain, the temperature can drop 15-20 degrees in a matter of a few minutes. It is not at all uncommon to see children playing and screaming outside in puddles, soaking up the change in an otherwise hot routine, like the typical summer New York City photos of children in the boroughs delighted by an opened fire hydrant.

The canal system that circles Phoenix, otherwise known as the turquoise necklace, is stocked with fish. The carp help keep the muck down, being bottom feeders. And there is muck. And rusting shopping carts. And other detritus, as public waterways go. Occasionally, you see fishermen on the banks — but not this time of year. The ducks, too, are gone. They’ve fled to cooler waters, even locally, with their gaggles of babies who are now starting to look more like petulant, curious, teens. The canals are shallow enough I can imagine the water temperature is hot by now. As such, the fish rise to the surface, flopping like miniature humpback whales. It is the oddest sight, but there they are: olive green, whiskered fish, flopping and carrying on, rising and diving, seeking comfort of the morning air on their scales, I imagine.

There are the other lovely desert-specific gems of summer: prickly pear fruit coming into season, the smell of wet desert after one of those rains — oh creosote! You bewildering, enchanting smell!, the jewel-toned bougainvillea and birds of paradise blooming everywhere, with their sprays of red, pink and hot orange.

As a city dweller (who dreams of a country life), I am also terribly fond of how easy traffic is this time of year. Phoenix in late July may not have many perks, but one is fewer people are willing to ride out the heat. My commute is half as long, which is much appreciated considering there is only so much a Civic’s air conditioner can manage at 109. Also, I am thankful for how casual this city is by now. While I still do not agree with flip-flops and shorts in the workplace unless you are a lifeguard, it is nice that no one expects heels and a dress, or a suit. Manhattan last summer was squelching hot in an entirely different way, but that city does not relent with the fashion. The men on Wall Street were dressed to the nines and there was always some woman on 5th Avenue who looked like she had superior genes, allowing blown out hair and gorgeous attire when everyone else was trying to hide sweat stains.

Phoenix is many things, but rarely dog-eat-dog. Which is a good thing, because right about now, my dog has pancaked himself on the kitchen’s tile floor, pressing as much of his belly against the cold as he can. And while he knows he will have to rest this way, panting for an hour or so after our morning adventure, he still wakes me each morning with expectation and excitement to go! Let’s go now!

That’s Phoenix in the summer time – finding the good and excitement where you can, and finding a cool, quiet spot in between.

~K

 

 

 

 

Carnitas!

Last night we had a bit of a terrier party — whose parents enjoyed carnitas and corn risotto stuffed poblano peppers.

Carnitas Night

Same dog: small, medium, large.

Carnitas Night

Carnitas Night

Carnitas Night

Carnitas Night

Carnitas Night

Carnitas Night

Carnitas Night

Carnitas Night

Carnitas Night

Carnitas Night

Carnitas Night

 

Another fun, easy night at the Heirloom Hacienda. Great company, good food, happy dogs.

~K

Food Security

It’s been a bit since I’ve blogged about food security. The other day I received a newsletter from the Association of Arizona Food Banks. The statistics listed rattled me — a reminder that it is good to use the tiny bit of soapbox power I have to discuss this increasingly serious social issue.

9-10-11 event

One in five Arizona adults is hungry, and the rate is even higher for kids — one in four. In other words, they do not know where their next meal will come from. This means some 1.17 million people in our state are living meal-to-meal. Seniors. Babies. The working poor.

That’s a lot of folks, and it is easy to be overwhelmed. A few simple ways you can help with food security in your community — regardless of where you live:

9-10-11 event

1. Find a local food bank and volunteer. Do what they need most. Maybe it is marketing, or sorting shelves. Maybe you are a great writer and can help with grants.

2. When you grocery shop, make a habit of buying an extra jar of peanut butter and can of tuna. These are inexpensive staples that are always in need.

3. See if your state hunger association has a tax credit program. In Arizona, you can donate up to $400 to AAFB and get the full amount back toward your state taxes. So, you give $400 to them and the state essentially matches it. Win/win.

4. Plant a garden. Find a place to donate a bit of your harvest. Produce is a luxury for families used to eating out of food boxes.

5. Consider keeping staples in your car to distribute, in lieu of money for homeless folks. These bags may include a bottle of water and a granola bar.

6. When you go out to eat, box up half of your meal for the guy sitting on the corner. Or — take it home and don’t be wasteful. Only in countries with such abundance does one hear the asinine, “I don’t eat leftovers.”  {This statement makes me so angry.}

7. Be an advocate. Learn about the hunger needs in your community and what can be done to address them on a policy level. Funding the Farm Bill should be a top priority. 

9-10-11 event

Why is hunger important? Because those who don’t get enough to eat commit crimes of survival. Children don’t thrive. Tempers flare. Oh, and also — this is a social issue of political will. We have plenty of food for everyone to be full.

Do something. We don’t have to change the world. But we could each do one small thing. (And right there — that is how we do change the world!)

~K

Home

Arizona Living

Arizona Living

Arizona Living

Arizona Living

Arizona Living

Arizona Living

There is something about the Hayden Mill that gives me the same sense of comfort as smelling the Thanksgiving turkey roasting, or seeing a stocking full of goodies Christmas morning.

Home, sweet home.

~K

Salsa

June 2014

June 2014

June 2014

June 2014

Someone remind me next year to stagger the tomato plants a bit. I’ve had a dozen plants come in at once. Salsa, tomato sauce, pizza sauce and even a simple plate drizzled with olive oil and sea salt:

June 2014

So, so good.

So, Phoenix area readers — how many of you want help planting a bumper crop of tomatoes next year? Who would read/enjoy a tutorial with my tips and tricks for how to make this work in our soil?

~K