Thursday, December 31, 2009

A sparkling winter sunrise over Star Valley

Photo by Linda Rickard
A recent sunrise over Star Valley provides a stunning image for the close of 2009.  Despite our many differences, we are united by the beauty of the place we call home.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Great Tellabration photos tell the tale

Photos by Mark Goldstein
We were out of town and missed the event, but photographer Mark Goldstein sent us a wide selection of great photos from the 10th consecutive Tellabration held Nov. 21 at the Pine Community Center Cultural Hall. Local storyteller Don Doyle organizes the event each year, and Mesa del Caballo resident Dee Strickland Johnson aka Buckshot Dot was one of the storytellers this year. Other storytellers included Dorothy Daniels Anderson, Doug Bland, Kindra Gayle, Vic McCraw, Ricardo Provencio and Liz Warren. Here are a few of the more spectacular shots from the evening.  Top: Don Doyle.  Center: Don Doyle and Buckshot Dot.  Bottom: Don Doyle flanked by all the storytellers.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

LETTER: Carpenter needs to replace Vogel


Thanks for the story about Fred Carpenter's quest for a seat on the Payson Town Council. As a longtime observer of Payson politics, I always found Fred to be fairly straightforward. You might not agree with him, but you always had to respect where he was coming from -- because he told you straight out.

Compare that to Mike Vogel, who will bounce a man off the Planning & Zoning Commission without a valid reason -- just so he can stick a realtor on. And then he dissembles about the whole thing.

It's pretty clear from your story that an intelligent electorate will place Fred Carpenter on the council The question is: who will be the odd man out.

Here's one vote -- make that a non-vote -- for Mike Vogel. What Fred said about diversity on the council and on boards and commissions makes a lot of sense. It's the only way you can have integrity in town government. It's the old system of checks and balances upon wich our great democracy was founded.

If the henhouse is full of realtors, what do you think is going to happen to the eggs? I can think of no other occupational group that wields such power by flexing their political muscle as do realtors.

Come on voters: can't you see they have a vested interest?

Dave Muncie

(Editor's note: To read the aforementioned story about Fred Carpenter, click LOCAL NEWS on the right and scroll down.)

LETTER: Former resident checks in from Mexico

Hello Jim...

Just to let you know that your Blog is read twice weekly from West Central Mexico from our beautiful City of Mazatlan! My wife and I were long time residents and business owners in Payson, but now spend much of our year at our home in Mazatlan, but still are, of course, very interested in all that is happening in and around Payson.

We're very happy to see that you have stayed the course with your dedication to accurate reporting of what really matters in the Payson area, and congratulate you on your great Blog site!

Please give our regards also to The Consort, who knows us through our real estate dealings with her... A FINE lady, I might add! Keep up the good work!

Larry and Eloise Kontz
Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What we know about you -- our readers

There’s Bill Gates. There’s the Steves – Wozniak and Jobs. And there’s Ed Schwebel.

Ed may never be a multi-gazillionaire like Gates. And it’s a pretty safe bet he’ll never be a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars” like Wozniak.

Ed Schwebel 

But when it comes to computer wizardry, he’s right up there with the big guys. At least to a rank amateur like myself who wouldn’t know the difference between levels of computer expertise if somebody hit me over the head with something you stick in a USB port (fortunately such things tend to be small and non-lethal).

In fact, I’m pretty pleased with myself for knowing what a USB port is and where to find mine. Whatever did us computer amateurs do back when we had to find a specific hole for every plug to fit into?

Anyway, Ed teaches online computer classes for the University of Phoenix and he’s my neighbor. When I told him I wanted to start a blog, he told me he could help – and he did.

Then, when I got the blog up and running, he helped me hook it up to Google Analytics, a website that tracks traffic on one’s blog in ways I would never have dreamed possible.

At first, I must admit, I was apprehensive. What if it turned out that only three people each day were visiting the Gazette blog – me, The Consort and Ed?

But Ed insisted we have to know these things. And besides, there was the inspiring movie “Julie and Julia,” in which Julie’s blog went from being absolutely alone out there in cyberspace to an international sensation.

Erudite Gazette Columnist Noble Collins and I have talked more than once about how cool it would be if we could grow our blog to attract a larger than local audience. As semi-serious writers, we would like to think that our words might someday be deemed worthy of reaching beyond the confines of Northern Gila County.

To make a long story short, Ed hooked the blog up to Google Analytics by impressively taking a long and convoluted computer code from one place and sticking it someplace else. If my life depended on it, I could not even remember where he stuck it, much less how to duplicate that magical feat.

We turned it on Dec. 7, and I am ecstatic to report that the Rim Country Gazette blog is indeed attracting a larger audience than The Consort and two Rimaroos without lives of their own. In fact, I am absolutely overjoyed at what Google Analytics revealed.

In the slightly more than two weeks since Google Analytics has been tracking the blog, it has received 1,896 visits. That’s an average of 111 per day and 3,330 per month.

While I was relieved to know that Noble and I (and Leilah Breitler and Mary Williams and Matt and Mitzi Brabb and all the other contributors) weren’t spewing into black holes of nothingness, Ed says our goal is 1,000 hits a day and we should get there sometime early next year.

I hope he’s right, but I’ll be happy to just keep our readership steadily growing as the word spreads. Sounds like a cult or something, doesn’t it?

In the meantime, here’s some other cool stuff Google Analytics reveals about you, our loyal readers.

You live in 24 countries. Besides the USA, we have readers in Mexico, Canada, India, Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, France, Colombia, South Korea, Romania, United Arab Emirates, Norway, Hong Kong, Czech Republic, Spain, Argentina, Lithuania, Italy and Pakistan.

Sixty percent of you log on to our blog direct, 21 percent of you come via a referring site (including the students at Troy State University-Montgomery who “love your blog postings”), and 18 percent of you find us through a search engine like Google.

Once here, you visit an average of 2.33 pages and spend an average of 2 minutes 29 seconds. Somebody in India spent 28 minutes on our blog, while somebody in Spain lasted 20 minutes.

Forty-seven percent of you are visiting the site for the first time, which means 53 percent of you are addicted to us and have to keep coming back for more.

And that’s OK. Remember, Toto, there’s no place like our blog … there’s no place like our blog … there’s no place like our blog…

Photo by Jim Keyworth
They're a little long in the tooth, but The Consort and Buddy make a pretty good Dorothy and Toto.

(And don’t forget to send us your contributions – rants, letters to the editor, poetry, even news from your neighborhood and community. And always your photos. We are a small crew and we want and need your input to make this truly The Blog of the People.)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Rim Country awash in white

Photos by Julie Coleman
Payson Golf Course following Tuesday's winter storm.  While much of the snow was gone by Christmas day, we are still declaring this a White Christmas -- because it's our blog and we can.

We need to allow for positive outcome

Making the far end turn

I don’t believe the ending of 2009 and the beginning of 2010 are mutually exclusive. They are more like the middle of a long string to me, or the turn at the far end of an oval.

I think 2010 will get its foundation from 2009, and possibly by the end of next year, we can somewhat accurately judge whether either year was a step forward or backward. The potential for a great step forward exists, but the mix of ingredients is still far too uncertain to predict an outcome. Someone or some thing could still set the cake out in the rain.

I am an incurable optimist, however. I’ve been around a few years, and have noticed the ebb and flow, the Yin and Yang of history. What I haven’t experienced, I have read about extensively, and, while I make no claim toward being an expert, I detect a definite trend throughout history toward progress and enlightenment.

In slow, agonizing fits and starts Mankind ratchets upward, one disaster and misplaced belief at a time. Great discovery and positive epiphany explode with an undeniable and irresistible force from time to time. Great leaders then embrace them as if they were known to them all along.

In the dark meantime, huge damage is done, but the eternal, universal law seems to be that The Great Force contains a slightly more positive charge than negative. Thus, we always have movement, not equilibrium. Ultimately, the positive charge is destined to prevail.

Make of that what you will.

Except for notable exceptions, we are no longer complete hostage to the weather or de facto slaves to other human beings. Especially in the U.S. we live with some degree of comfort and security. It’s all relative, of course, and there are still huge areas of the world in physical and mental darkness, but on balance the average person in the developed world is the beneficiary of far higher standards than at any other time in history.

I can’t imagine the horror of Auschwitz. It’s incomprehensible to me how John McCain and others survived the “Hanoi Hilton.” How civilization maintained a micron of intelligence and enlightenment during the Dark Ages or the Inquisition is beyond my ability to understand. Having an unknown monster like “The Black Death” plague tear members of a family apart, or having a known monster like the Gestapo accomplish the same horror are things no human should ever have to endure.

Yet millions have, indeed, endured them and pledged to never allow them to have the upper hand again. And so, we somehow cling to a tiny positive spark until the storm has passed. Some survive, learn and move forward.

The question, really, is why it should be so difficult. How to explain the strength and fervor of the “Dark Side?” which seems programmed to tear down and destroy - which refuses to seek a better way - which, in fact, refuses to acknowledge that there might even BE a better way? What is it that motivates such imbedded negativity?

It has something to do with an uncontrollable insecurity, I think. I don’t see any other way of explaining it. A blind man attempts to cross a river over a rickety bridge with only a safety rope to cling to. His sighted companions can easily observe that the “river” is merely a shallow stream, and that the bridge and rope are quite secure. With a light grip on the rope and making sure, quick steps, in fact, the blind man could easily cross the divide and get on with important work on the other side. This doesn’t happen, though. The rope is clutched with desperate tightness and each step is tentative and small. The blind man cannot risk giving up his “sure” safety. He, thus, holds back progress for the entire group.

History has, too often, been hostage to such blindness. It is at this particular time of the year, however, that we are reminded : “ Those who live in the land of darkness, have seen a great light.” The possibility of illumination, of awareness and resulting reform always exists.

If the great wave of negativity, seemingly growing more and more desperate in our country, can somehow be consoled, and we can, once again learn from the past and move on; there is no reason to believe in a gloomy future. We learn from our past or we are condemned by it. The majority works together for good or succumbs to ruination. The pleas of a drowning man are compelling, but rarely assist in a rescue.

In one of my favorite fables, a condemned man is pardoned for one year by the king. During this period, he must teach the king’s donkey to talk. If he succeeds, he will be pardoned for life - if not, he will be beheaded immediately. His companions in prison call him a fool for accepting such an offer.

He replies: “I look at it this way. In a year, the king might die, or the donkey might die, or maybe the damned thing will learn to talk.”

That might not seem like optimism to you, but it does allow for an unknown positive outcome.

I believe we all should allow for the possibility of an unknown positive outcome. At the very least, we have no business intentionally attempting to prevent it.

As I said, I’m an incurable optimist, but I firmly believe I have history on my side.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Greetings from The Consort, Kleo and the Editor

Photo by Jim Keyworth
Here's how it looked at our house the other day.  Just wanted our readers in 23 countries, including India, Thailand, Pakistan and the Czech Republic, to see our white Christmas.  That's the Tonto National Forest in the background and the Mogollon Rim on the far horizon.  Have a very Merry Christmas and whatever else you're celebrating.

Bringing home the Christmas tree

Contributed photo
Ciara Romance 17 and Cameron Romance 15 haul the Romance family tree out of the forest -- obviously before Tuesday's snowstorm.  Send your snow or Christmas photos to  High resolution and one photo per e-mail please.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Partridge in a pear tree?

Photo by Rita Andersen
Mesa del Caballo resident Rita Andersen captured this shot following Tuesday's snowstorm.  Send your snow and Christmas photos to  High resolution and one photo per e-mail please. 

RANT & RAVE: December 23, 2009

Editor’s note: Each week we print a selection of anonymous rants and raves submitted by our readers. Keep them under 150 words, free of profanity and personal attacks, and have at it. You need not sign your submission, which you may e-mail to or mail to Gazette Editor, 7736 N. Toya Vista Road, Payson, AZ 85541. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Gazette staff.

And don’t forget to visit BY THE PEOPLE. Just click on the right. You can leave your comments on any subject there as well.

NOW, the Roundup even criticizes the hunters caught by the heavy storm that hit us recently. Their “view”: the hunters headed out in “defiance” of forecasts (we know are ALWAYS correct), “perhaps selfish” as they knew that if they got in a jam someone would come looking, and they should have worried about their rescuers instead of themselves? These people are really out of touch, and are in the same class as the anti-hunter/tree hugger/out of state environmentalists who try to control everything we do. They have also most likely never hunted in their lives, and have no idea of the preparation that goes into these hunts if and when you are ever drawn. Most if not all take gear and provisions to protect and sustain themselves, but when that much comes that fast, you just cannot move to get out of camp, unless you happen to have snowshoes. I’ve waited out a storm on the Kaibab in a late hunt, and then took a day to get out rather than leave my trailer, gear, and game. I am so tired of the Roundup’s “better than thou-judgmental-inaccurate” information that I have not renewed my subscription and only read (it) when it is available for free. They are not, were not, and never will be in the class that the Gazette was. I even get my ads now from the Republic, which has its own issues. Thanks Jim, for all your honesty and the Marcy notes, as she was definitely an Angel!! Merry CHRISTmas!!!
Did you notice how (Payson Town Councilor) Mike Vogel was not able to recite one specific instance of poor values, poor judgment, or poor performance by Gary Bedsworth as a P&Z member? I wish more citizens would have watched that.
People have never been appointed to (Town of Payson) boards or whatever based on when they submit their paperwork. (Councilor) Mike (Vogel) is just giving out more BS just like he always does. Involvement in this town is at a low point with no hope of getting better with the current mayor.
Why do we allow outright false statements on this blog? Someone who wishes to incite a riot said that a "no" vote on home rule will decrease taxes. THAT IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE!! Home rule is only who gets to set the limit of spending? Do you want the state to use an inappropriate formula which would only allow some $14-15 million to be spent when Payson realistically needs to spend some $26 million? Payson will take in from sales tax and other means about that much. We definitely need home rule. I'm sure the blogger has it confused with an "override" which will affect taxes.
Ed Blair
Payson Councilor
Four year college, my butt. (Payson Mayor Kenny) Evans and (Roundup Reporter Pete) Aleshire are perpetrating the biggest scam ever on this community. And why? So Kenny can get re-elected and Aleshire can wallow in his own BS. Show me the contract with ASU and stop the babbling.
I just read that Whispering Pines has formed a water improvement district. They want Brooke Utilities to "behave." What does that mean? And, much worse, they're working with Harry Jones seeking SRP water. Are you kidding me? Yeah, Jones was instrumental in Pine-Strawberry, all right? He almost spent us into bankruptcy, lined his own pockets, hocked the communities for more than $6M, got himself a great job, and took as much credit as possible. In the end, we community members got all the responsibility, debt, and disaster of a water system. Even the Arizona Corporation Commission can't believe the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID) wanted this system so badly - they just shake their heads. So, yeah, good luck with Jones. He and has band of renown will suck every dollar out of the community they can in the interest of making Hardcastle "behave." He just got nearly $4M from PSWID. How are less than 200 customers going to possibly compete with that?
American Capitalist Wasteful Christmas. Let's put up a bunch of silly lights and run up our electricity bills, cut down a bunch of tress and throw them away, eat too much, drink too much and charge a bunch of shit nobody needs. All in the name of "The Son of God." Nothing makes sense anymore.
Hey modest Christians: make sure (before you fatten yourselves at the Christmas dinner table) to say “grace.” Make sure that you thank God for the fact that you have enough money to vote for Republicans, buy a dead tree so that you can throw it away, piddle away money (and electricity) on turning your houses into little sparkly circuses of gluttony and drive big gas guzzling four wheel drive trucks (that you don’t need). Sure glad Jesus has your back!
What a great Christmas present we are about to receive from President Obama and the Democratic Congress – health care reform. Finally, some politicians actually did something for the people. Republicans, stop whining and get with the program. You’re nothing but a bunch of fat cats out to protect the insurance industry that supports your campaigns. And John McCain, how disgraceful. You said you would work with President Obama for the good of the country – and the people. You say the system is broken, and now we know who broke it – Republicans like you. Thirty million of us will now have health insurance. I repeat: What a great Christmas present.

Rim Country awakes to winter wonderland

Photo by The Consort
Winter roared into Arizona Tuesday and, for a change, the Rim Country received its fair share of snow.  This photo shows the front yard of a Mesa del Caballo resident.  The house in the background is barely visible.  Mesa del received about six inches from the storm which moved out of the Rim Country this morning.  Send us your snow photos to and we'll post the best.  High resolution and one photo per e-mail please.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Just in time for Christmas, it's S*N*O*W*I*N*G!!!

Ace Pine correspondent Ellie Watson sent these pictures of the snow that started falling Tuesday afternoon.  In the top photo, her Vizsla (that's a breed) Annie (that's the dog's name) experiences the white stuff.  In the bottom photo, Watson's yard in Pine is just starting to fill up with snow.  Send your snow photos to  Highest resolution possible, one photo per e-mail please.

Carpenter emphasizes experience, tourism

Council candidate also advocates
moving county seat to Payson

By Jim Keyworth
Gazette Editor
Former Payson town manager Fred Carpenter figures he’d be a pretty handy guy to have on the town council.

“I’ve been in government for 32 years and I know a lot about what doesn’t work,” Carpenter said . “I’m not saying I know everything, but I certainly know a lot of stuff that isn’t going to work – stuff that’s been tried.”

Carpenter is running against three incumbents, councilors Ed Blair, Su Connell and Mike Vogel. His 32 years of experience in city and town governments includes stints as the first town manager of Prescott Valley, and as town manager of Wickenburg, Buckeye and Hesston, Kansas (30 miles from Wichita).

Carpenter served five years as Payson town manager before he was fired. He still doesn’t know why, but he’s philosophical about the fate of those in his profession.

“It happens in a lot of communities you work in – you wear out your welcome with elected officials,” he explained. “It’s just the way it is. I wore mine out.”

Carpenter estimates the average tenure of a town manager is five to six years, so his stay in Payson was right on target.

“I don’t even know the reasons why they wanted me to leave, but it worked out OK for me because I love Payson, so we decided to make it retirement,” he explained.

Carpenter says his motive for running is simple.

“After 32 years, maybe it’s time to give something back, because you’re not going to get rich as a councilman,” he joked.

He adds that he’s not running against any specific candidate.

“When I decided to run six, eight months ago, I did it because I wanted to run,” he noted. “I didn’t know who was going to run then. I’m not running against anyone.”

But Carpenter has staked out some strong opinions on the issues, including Globe’s stranglehold on Gila County.

“We ought to have the county seat up here, plain and simple,” he said. “It’s silly. Think about it. They have less than half the population we do.

“Payson (was made) part of all three districts just to keep the votes down there. We’ve been outmaneuvered for years.”

“We come out on the short end of a lot of different things. (District 1 Supervisor) Tommie cline martin does her best, but she’s always on the short end of a 2-1 vote.

“(Moving the county seat here) would be economic development of a sort. We’d have more government jobs.”

But Carpenter believes the real answer to Payson’s economic future is a greater emphasis on tourism, particularly through the addition of a new convention center.

“We need to boost tourism,” he said. “Let’s bring people here to spend money and then go home.

“You bring 1,500 people up here for a conference or a convention and they’re going to want to do something. I mention shopping because that’s where the sales tax dollars are.

“People want to come here from the Valley. Payson is easier to get to than Prescott.”

And Carpenter believes Main Street can be a vital part of the mix.

“If we had a viable conference center, it could be turned into kind of like downtown Flagstaff,” he said.

But he doesn’t necessarily agree with those who want to theme Main Street.

“We’ve done enough theming already,” he emphasized. “You can overdo it with the tourists. You can over commercialize. We don’t want to lose our charm.”

As a councilor, Carpenter would emphasize facilitating rather than subsidizing the development of Main Street.

“If you’ve got a good piece of property and a good developer, let’s not get in their way by throwing restrictions at them to make it more difficult,” he said. “Let’s make it easier.”

Water is always an issue in the Rim Country. Carpenter does not hold with those who favor delaying the Blue Ridge pipeline until growth resumes and demand increases.

“True, demand is down, but the problem is if you get the grants, you better go with them when you’ve got them,” he said.

He also thinks the town should facilitate access to Blue Ridge water for smaller, unincorporated communities, particulary those along Houston Mesa Road.

“I think it’s a great idea, because the pipeline is going to run right past you,” he said. “I think the tribe ought to get involved, too.”

Carpenter was town manager four years ago when the great water war erupted between Payson and Star Valley, leading to that town’s incorporation. He joked that it had to be a journalist’s dream because of all the stories it generated.

“It was the gift that kept on giving,” he said with a laugh. But then he turned serious.

Payson can help Star Valley,” he offered. “A pipeline really can go both ways and there’s no way those little places along the (pipeline route) are going to eat up that 500 acre feet (allotted to northern Gila County).”

Carpenter is confident that Blue Ridge will solve the Rim Country’s water issues, but it will come with a cost.

Water is way too cheap in the west,” he noted. “I get a $35 water bill and in the winter a $200 heating bill. People are not careful about water.

“The paradox we’re working with is that to pay for Blue Ridge you’ve got to have money. If you’ve got a bond issue to pay off, you’ve got to have customers.”

Carpenter also emphasized his commitment to citizen involvement, although not to the extent that former mayor Bob Edwards took the concept.

“I don’t know if I’d go so far as to appoint all those volunteer commissions, but if something needs studying, why not a volunteer group to study it,” he said.

And he’s also for diversity in town government, although he wouldn’t directly criticize Vogel for appointing realtor Clark Jones to the Planning & Zoning Commission over incumbent and Edwards holdover Gary Bedsworth.

“In my opinion, you should have disparate voices on the council and commissions,” he emphasized. “You need people like Gary Bedsworth and Hal Baas. You need a breadth of opinions.

“I’m not against anybody, but I’m for diversity.”

In a position paper released to the media Carpenter emphasized that he has no desire to institute radical changes in Payson’s local government. He does, however, support:

O Renewal of the local alternative expenditure limitation (home rule).
O Expansion of the Payson Public Library.
O Construction of the third fire station.
O Upgrading of park facilities and acquisition of additional park land.
O Completion of major street improvements.
O Sensible and well-designed new subdivisions.
O A 4-year college.
O Affordable housing options.

To facilitate his election, Carpenter plans a door-to-door campaign, and he’s looking forward to addressing the Citizens Awareness Committee and other local groups and organizations. He’s also willing to participate in a debate with the other candidates.

Finally, would he consider running for mayor at some point? Carpenter’s answer demonstrated that the sense of humor that got him through 32 years as a town manager is still intact.

“Four years as a councilman, two years as mayor, the state legislature for two years, the state senate for two years, congressman for two years. I’ll only be 82 years old and ready to run for president.”

“Seriously,” he continued, “I have no plans. If I get elected, I’ll serve four years and see what happens.”

And again he emphasized his 32 years of experience.

“I know what I’m getting into, and most people (who run for council) don’t,” he concluded.

From sex life of orchid to chaste reptiles

NAU biologist explores bizarre
give-and-take between species

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (Dec., 2009) -- The natural world is full of unusual relationships—vampire bats that regurgitate blood for roosting buddies, reptiles that enforce chastity on their lovers, Capuchin monkeys that use millipede secretions as mosquito repellent.

Such negotiation between life-forms striving to survive is evolution at its most diverse, entertaining and awe-inspiring.

In her new book, "Sexy Orchids Make Lousy Lovers," Northern Arizona University adjunct biology professor and tropical field biologist Marty Crump takes readers on a voyage of discovery into the world of extraordinary interactions involving animals, plants, fungi and bacteria.

“I have purposely focused on unusual, often bizarre relationships within and between species because I find them fascinating, amazing, often inspiring,” said Crump, who conducts all of her research in South America. She currently is working on a collaborative project with Darwin’s frogs in Chile.

Sexy Orchids illuminates the ceaseless give-and-take between species. Occasionally both interacting parties benefit, like when hornbills and dwarf mongooses hunt together for food. Other times, one individual benefits and the other is neither helped nor harmed, such as with orchids that mimic the shape and smell of female insects to dupe male insects into pollinating them without the benefit of nectar in return. But sometimes one individual benefits at the expense of the other, as with jackal flies that steal food captured in the webs of orb-weaving spiders.

Some of the more unusual examples in Crump’s book include mites that hitch-hike in hummingbird nostrils, male long-tailed macaques that “pay” females for sex by grooming them, and the assortment of animals that use plants for medicines, stimulants and hallucinogens.

Sexy Orchids is a sequel of sorts to Crump’s previous book, Headless Males Make Great Lovers. The latter focuses on unusual natural history in general: mating games, parental care, food and feeding, defense and communication. In Sexy Orchids, Crump focuses on unusual relationships within and between species in the hopes that readers will gain a greater appreciation for natural history.

“The world is full of amazing interactions between and among living organisms,” Crump said. “The more we know about these relationships, the better we appreciate the fact that we are all interconnected.”

Sexy Orchids Make Lousy Lovers was published last month by the University of Chicago Press.  To order or read an excerpt from the book online, go to

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Corn Dog destined to become classic

What you are about to read is destined to become a Christmas classic, mentioned in the same breath as Rudolph, Frosty, and the Grinch.

I say breath carefully, because this tale is about Buddy, aka Boo Man, Sputters, Mama’s Little Pussy Dog, and now, just in time to participate in a corny Christmas tale, The Christmas Corn Dog. You see, ruthless, toothless Buddy (he actually has three left) has the foulest of breaths – even fouler, I would wager, than the Grinch’s.

Buddy, you will remember is the 15-year-old homeless waif The Consort took pity and brought home from the Humane Society of Central Arizona (HSCAZ) one night when I wasn’t looking. Buddy was probably abused by a man, because for the longest time he would growl and snap if I even so much as looked at him.

Being the gentle, patient, kind and loving man that I am, I persevered for many months to earn Buddy’s trust. Why, I wanted it is a question I can’t answer. The only thing I can think of is that he is a dead ringer for Toto in “The Wizard of Oz” – except for the missing teeth, of course.

But from day one Buddy has been the ultimate eating machine. I have never seen a little guy who can pack away the food he can and still be hungry. He is so excited when it’s time to eat that he literally dances around the room.

And if it’s not time to eat, Buddy scours the floor for anything he can put in his mouth, including lint. He loves to go through the bathroom wastebaskets when nobody is home so he can pick clean the dental floss therein.

Anyway, twas the night of the big Mesa del Caballo community Christmas potluck. The Consort, who had to work at the shelter that day, made up a simple dish in the morning before she left home.

Now usually The Consort makes only the most complicated dishes in the world, even though they are always billed in the recipe as simple. I know this because I am the designated kitchen cleaner upper, and I have cleaned up after some doozies.

But the all new HSCAZ cookbook (“Favorite Recipes for People and Pets by the Supporters of the Humane Society of Central Arizona”) had just come out, and this time The Consort struck gold. Gold as in really simple, and gold as in corn.

The recipe was Lulu’s Corn Casserole, and The Consort whipped it up and left it in the refrigerator. It goes like this:

1 can creamed corn
1 can whole corn
2 beaten eggs
1 box 8 ¾ ounce corn muffin mix
1 C. sour cream
1 sm. can diced chiles
1 tsp. salt
2 C. grated cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together. Bake in 9 X 11 pan for 75 minutes.

Later that afternoon, following the instructions left for me on a sticky note, I popped Lulu in the oven. After 70 minutes I made the executive chef’s determination that it was ready and took it out.

This is where the first Christmas miracle happened. About halfway through the potluck, a woman hollered out for all to hear, “Who made this corn dish?” I looked over to make sure there was no mistaking the dish and replied, “The Consort.” The lady replied that it was outstanding.

The Consort beamed and I, in the true spirit of the season, humbly smiled inside, for although I had actually cooked the dish, I willingly relinquished the credit. I mean, I’m the one who stuck it in the oven and took it out. As I see it, that’s the cooking part.

To make a long story short, when we went to get our dish at the end of the evening, all of Lulu’s Corn Casserole was gone, except a few minor scrapings. As I carried it proudly out the door, past the row of half-eaten dishes, I remarked to The Consort that we had clearly created the hit of the evening.

We headed home to live happily ever after and to wish all a good night, but there was still another miracle waiting to play out. When we got home, there was the Boo Man waiting for potluck leftovers. He looked up from his dental floss expectantly – and a bit guiltily.

Talk about feeling like Scrooge. All I could do was put the empty dish down on the floor as I apologized profusely.

But lo and behold, Buddy rose to the occasion, exemplifying the true spirit of the holidays. Unperturbed by the scanty leavings, he ripped into that empty dish of Lulu’s Corn Casserole with a vengeance – and I took a picture to prove it.

He licked and he gnawed and he slid that dish around the kitchen like one of those angels on high playing a harp as she floated on a cloud. It was poetry in motion. All that was missing was the robe and the halo – and maybe some decent breath.

As Buddy reached a crescendo, The Consort and I paused, looked at each other, and reflected on the true meaning of this blessed holiday. Because there in this humble creature could be seen a miraculous example of America’s greatest holiday tradition – eating oneself into oblivion.

Buddy had transformed into The Christmas Corn Dog. Across this blessed land, may you all go and do likewise.

Oh, and you can pick up the new HSCAZ cookbook for just $15 at the shelter or the thrift store. The proceeds go to a good cause – finding homes for the likes of Boo Man.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Progressive party a holiday highlight in Mesa del

Photos by Bill Huddleston
Last weekend's progressive party in Mesa del Caballo featured the community's best decorated homes and put residents in the holiday mood.  Here are some highlights.

Top: Ed Schwebel Sr. and wife Fern are on their way to the next house.
Middle: Deb Stevens, whose highly decorated house was one of the stops, shares a lighter moment with one of her live-in guys.
Bottom: Holiday cheer at Ed Schwebel's house.

Send your neighborhood's holiday highlights to  (Highest resolution possible, one pic per e-mail please).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mesa del committee unveils conservation plan

The Mesa del Caballo Water Committee, which is working with Brooke Utilities to develop a model that will mitigate summer water shortages in the unincorporated horse community 1.8 miles northeast of Payson, has come up with the following Conservation Stages & Rate Tiers for review and comment.

To comment, contact Randy Norman at 474-4454, Irene Schwartzbauer at 474-3360 or Ed Schwebel at 468-3712.


Conservation Stage 1
(based on 250 gallons usage per day per meter)

Outside watering:
even addresses Wed Fri Sun
odd addresses Tue Thu Sat
(no outside watering on Mondays)

Summers: Irrigate at night after 7 p.m. or early mornings (between 3 a.m. - 8 a.m.) to reduce water loss due to evaporation and wind)**

Conservation Stage 2
20% reduction in daily water usage = 200 gallons usage

Voluntary conservation measures should be taken to reduce daily inside and outside water consumption by 20%.

Outside watering:
even addresses Wed Sun
odd addresses Tue Sat

Summers: Irrigate at night after 7 p.m. or early mornings (between 3 a.m. - 8 a.m.) to reduce water loss due to evaporation and wind)**

Conservation Stage 3
30% reduction in daily water usage = 175 gallons usage

Voluntary conservation measures should be taken to reduce daily inside & outside water consumption by 30%.

Outside watering:
even addresses Wed Sun
odd addresses Tue Sat

Summers: Irrigate at night after 7 p.m. or early mornings (between 3 a.m. - 8 a.m.) to reduce water loss due to evaporation and wind)**

Conservation Stage 4
 40% reduction in daily water usage = 150 gallons usage

Mandatory conservation measures should be taken to reduce daily inside and outside water consumption by 40%.

Outside watering:
even addresses Tues
odd addresses Thurs

Summers: Irrigate at night after 7 p.m. or early mornings (between 3 a.m. - 8 a.m.) to reduce water loss due to evaporation and wind)**

Conservation Stage 5
50% reduction in daily water usage = 125 gallons usage

Mandatory conservations measures should be taken to reduce inside & outside daily water consumption by 50%.

No outside watering allowed
No irrigation of outdoor lawns, trees, shrubs or any plant life
No washing of any vehicle
No water use for dust control or any outdoor cleaning
No use of a drip or misting system
No filling of any swimming pool, spa, fountain, or
ornamental pool
No construction water usage
No other water intensive activity is allowed

**AZ Dept of Water Resources (ADWR)


$1.93 per 1000 for 1-4000 gallons
$2.99 per 1000 gal for 4001+


Winter Rates ( Oct 1 – Apr 30)
$? per 1000 gallons for 1-4000 gallons
$? per 1000 gallons for 4001-7500 gallons
$? per 1000 gallons for 7501-10000 gallons
$? per 1000 gallons for 10001 & more gallons

Summer Rates (May 1 – Sep 30)
$? per 1000 gallons for 1-4000 gallons
$? per 1000 gallons for 4001-7500 gallons
$? per 1000 gallons for 7501-10000 gallons
$? per 1000 gallons for 10001 & more gallons

Monday, December 14, 2009

In memory of Marcy 1950-2009

The Gazette was granted exclusive permission to take a few photographs following the memorial service for Marcy Rogers at Payson United Methodist Church Saturday.  Nothing says more about what Marcy meant to her kids than these photos of them paying their respects.  As one of the adults said during the service, "Marcy would have been proud of you all today."

Photo by Jim Keyworth
Stephanie, the original Payson Community Kid, came from the Valley for Marcy's service.  After the service, Marcy's Kids were invited to place a carnation on an altar honoring Marcy.  Notice the hand of support on Stephanie's back from the next kid in line.

Photo by Jim Keyworth
Marcy's kids came in all colors, creeds, shapes and sizes. 

Photo by Jim Keyworth
Following the service some of Marcy's Kids gathered to watch a video comprised of photos from her eventful life.

Photo by Jim Keyworth
Their reactions varied as they watched Marcy's life unfold before them.

Photo by Jim Keyworth

Photo by Jim Keyworth

Photo by Jim Keyworth

On a lighter note:
One of the lighter moments during the memorial service came when a grandmother of one of Marcy's kids recounted how it kind of bothered her that her grandson would always sit on Marcy's lap in church instead of hers.  When she asked her grandson why he always went to Marcy instead of sitting on Grandma's lap, he replied, "Marcy has jellybeans."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Exclusive photos of Marcy's memorial service

Photo by Jim Keyworth
Some of Marcy's Kids watch a video of her life following the memorial service at Payson United Methodist Church Saturday.  Tears were shed by kids and adults alike as about 300 mourners filled the church to pay final respects to Marcy Rogers, founder of Payson Community Kids, who died Dec. 5 at the age of 58.  Visit our blog next week for more exclusive photos of Marcy's Kids following the service.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A pictorial tribute to Marcy Rogers

Photo by Pia Wyer
Marcy with her kids.

Photo by Jim Keyworth
She had a special touch with the little ones.

Photo by Pia Wyer
One of Marcy's favorite photos.

Photo by Jim Keyworth
Tis the season...

Photo by Jim Keyworth
Marcy with jazz vocalist Blaze Lantana at a Valley fundraiser.

Photo by Jim Keyworth
Our last photo of Marcy, taken several months ago when she posed with the Elks Lodge officers at a fundraiser for her kids.

Her epitaph is easy: Marcy mattered

Marcy Rogers ranks among
Rim Country’s legendary ladies

Editor’s note: A memorial service will be held for Marcy Rogers at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12 at Payson United Methodist Church, 414 N. Easy Street. An account has been created at Chase Bank (number 842 043 861) to help with funeral expenses.

Marcy Rogers is dead.

It’s almost impossible to imagine those words, much less form them or come to grips with what they mean. Those who knew her well – really knew her – will certainly agree. Because Marcy Rogers was all about life.

Being a bleeding heart journalist in Payson, you couldn’t help but know Marcy. Back when I went to work for the other paper, she immediately recognized where my sentiments lay -- with the children and the animals and those less fortunate. I was just what Marcy needed to tell her story, to keep her cause alive.

That cause, of course, was Payson Community Kids – the nonprofit she founded in 1996 that cared for at risk children.

Marcy was relentless in her quest to tell her story so she could keep the money and donations coming in that would keep her program going. Journalists get a lot of that from a lot of causes and programs, but with Marcy it was different.

Instead of the usual press release, Marcy always called and insisted I come over and actually see what she was talking about. To experience her kids. To interact with them. I usually did.

And you know what? Kids don’t lie. You could see it on their faces. You could hear it in their simple words. You could feel it in their body language.

They loved Marcy. Unconditionally. Just as she loved them.

I was more than happy to write story after story about Marcy and her kids. And when I became editor of the Gazette, I put her on the front page as often as possible.

Some papers operate on the premise that if it bleeds it leads. Other people’s misfortunes, after all, sell newspapers.

For me, it was always about kids, animals and the little guy. OK, and about politicians with questionable motives and way too much hubris.

Speaking of such, Marcy had her detractors. She was sometimes treated shabbily by the Town of Payson, and the town council let it happen.

Others felt she was too close to the kids. That her organization was merely a bandaid and didn’t address the roots of the problems these children faced.

Marcy Rogers refused to yield. Who knows what drives people like her. It sure isn’t public opinion. Or political pressure

But I do know this: she was intensely driven to help the downtrodden children of Payson.

Of course she wasn’t perfect. Who among us is? But if other agencies could have done a better job, where were they when Marcy found kids wandering the streets?

Marcy mattered because Marcy went beyond the system. Around the system. Behind the system. Even, if you will pardon the expression, up the system.

She was real. She was there.

Maybe she’s not here anymore because you can only function at breakneck speed for so long. Maybe the motor that she kept revved all the time finally just broke down.

We’ll never know. But I do know this – our community has lost an invaluable asset.

I know it because I saw it. Not only as a journalist, but on a personal level.

Not many people know this, but the grandfather of the original Payson Community Kid is a friend of mine, and has been for many years. I know very well the little girl Marcy befriended when she found her wandering on a Payson street.

I know how much Marcy did for her and for her older sister. I know how grateful their grandparents were for the unconditional love and support Marcy offered.

As a journalist, I have to maintain as much objectivity as I can. For me, that’s especially difficult when kids, animals, or the downtrodden are involved.

But where this little girl and her grandfather were involved, I don’t have to be objective.

What she did for the original Payson Community Kid – and she was only the first of hundreds – said it all for me.

Passionate. Caring. Loving. Sacrificing. Marcy was all those things and so much more.

When you talk about the Rim Country’s legendary ladies, Julia Randall, Marguerite Noble and Anna Mae Deming usually top the list. Marcy Rogers deserves a place alongside them.

But she joined them way too soon.

Rant & Rave -- December 11, 2009

Editor’s note: Each week we print a selection of anonymous rants and raves submitted by our readers. Keep them under 150 words, free of profanity and personal attacks, and have at it. You need not sign your submission, which you may e-mail to or mail to Gazette Editor, 7736 N. Toya Vista Road, Payson, AZ 85541. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Gazette staff.

And don’t forget to visit BY THE PEOPLE. Just click on the right. You can leave your comments on any subject there as well.

I’m sure I join all of Payson in expressing my sadness over the death of Marcy Rogers. Whatever will our children do without her?
For those of you who could not stomach watching last night's (Payson) council meeting, Gary Bedsworth was replaced on P&Z (Planning & Zoning Commission) by Clark Jones ( a local realtor, resident of Payson for less than 1 year.) Clark was recommended by (Councilor) Mike Vogel because of his longevity in the area compared to Gary. (Councilor) Ed Blair made a valiant stand in support of Gary but no one seemed to care. Tom Loeffler was not selected to be reappointed to STAB (Surface Transportation Advisory Board). Vogel says that was because he had originally sent a letter asking not to be considered for reappointment. His follow up letter, asking to be reappointed, put him at the end of the list of candidates. Jim Hipple volunteered to resign so Tom could be reappointed in his position. But Vogel has already lined up his next appointment to the position and he would not commit that Tom would be selected. Anyway, since Jim's offer was not agendized, it could not be discussed further. So Gordon Metcalf is now on STAB instead of Tom. Yippee! Seems like Vogel’s appointment process changes to fit his selections. And the citizens will not understand the importance of any of this.
The thing about politicians is that sooner or later they become sloppy and their biases become indisputable. So it is with (Payson Councilor) Mike Vogel. His appointment of Clark Jones to the Planning & Zoning Commission is blatantly transparent. It is unethical for developers and realtors to be sitting in judgment on matters that will make them money. Vogel doesn’t even pretend to be objective anymore. He is so very much in the pockets of the realtors, developers and good ole boys. How anyone who cares about Payson’s quality of life can vote for this charlatan is beyond reason. Mike Vogel needs to be turned out of office.
Prayer at town council meetings is unconstitutional. Plain and simple. Sooner or later, the Payson and Star Valley town councils are going to face lawsuits over this practice. Frankly I hope it’s sooner. All the righties rave about how important the Constitution is – until it comes to one of their pet causes. Go to church and pray. Pray in the privacy of your own home. Hell, pray in your car (it’s safer than texting, provided you do it with your eyes open). But stop praying at public meetings. You are doing it against a basic principle of this great nation.
Home rule? Folks, if you want to send a message to local politicians they won’t soon forget, vote NO on home rule. It will cut spending and cut your taxes. It’s the one thing that will bring arrogant politicians to their knees.
A few weeks ago, a Gazette investor wrote a rant about Payson Jewelers and PostNet being partly responsible for the Gazette’s demise. I, too, am a Gazette investor and I hear every day how much people miss the Gazette. I would like to thank those who pledged not to shop at those two places anymore. But while we’re at it, we should mention three other factors that helped bring down the Gazette. The Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce under John Stanton continued to give the Roundup the inside track on business opportunities (Roundup Publisher John Naughton is a member of the chamber board of directors) even after Tina Bruess was fired in part for doing the same thing. Also, Town Manager Debra Galbraith and the Town of Payson allowed water guru Buzz Walker to pull advertising from the Gazette that he left in the Roundup because he didn’t like the honesty we used in reporting on his antics. Finally, the gang of four who left the Gazette to work for the Rim Country News produced a really crappy paper that is now out of business and spread advertising dollars even thinner.
Hey, we finally got some moisture. Isn’t it time for Pete Aleshire and the Roundup to pronounce the drought over – for the third time.
Rx fire. There is a better way. The Forest Service simply refuses to do it. Typical behavior by a government agency. Changing its caveman ways to adjust to current realities is not in its playbook.
So it’s OK if Bush and Cheney want to lay waste to Afghanistan, but when President Obama decides to send more troops the right wing Nazis come unglued. What hypocrites. What racists.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Small town Christmas alive and well in Payson

Winter arrived right on cue.

Walking the crowded sidewalks of Swiss Village, we didn’t mind the cold, as we stopped by warming fires or went into little shops for a cup of hot chocolate. The myriad colored lights and other decorations created a perfect “Alpine” setting, and more and more people arrived to mingle in the parking lot and occasionally stop and chat with good friends. Santa arrived in a fire truck, and hundreds of families urged their children forward to attempt an up-front place in line to talk with him. Somewhere, Norman Rockwell smiled, and authors of Christmas songs and tales nodded, “Yes.”

On a cold winter night, a week later, a small crowd stood around a beautifully lit tree in what some would call the center of town and sang carols. A harmonic small choir from the high school led the way.

To cap it all off, the next night an “Electric Light Parade” was held on old Main Street. As darkness fell, cars, wagons, trucks, even baby strollers came rumbling down the street accompanied by horns, shouts and carolers. Any and every thing with wheels was covered in lighted decorations of every possible design. Bands played and folks marched, skipped and strolled down what was once the center of Old Payson. It seemed like most of the town was either in the parade or cheering from the sidewalks. And, yes, it was cold, but great fun.

Small town Christmas - special small town Christmas, I think - here in the mountains high above the big city. Here, warmth has a meaning far beyond temperature. The clear air provides a perfect atmosphere for radiance and illumination. Sounds are clearer, smells are sharper, handshakes firmer, hugs more freely given, and smiles more genuine.

As “The Cable Guy” might say, “I don’t care who you are, that’s good stuff.”

And this is a major point, I believe. I don’t care who you are, the sights and sounds and overall ambiance of small town Christmas, at least in Payson, Arizona, cannot fail to touch the good places in whatever heart comes upon them.

It is, of course, a high holy day for Christians. It has, however come to be a major occasion for much of mankind simply for the release of good will, positive values and a wonderful celebration of beauty and excitement during the darkest and coldest period of the year. Every form of religion has its special days, and rightly so. The magnificence of Christmas has, however, grown beyond small sacred observations once carefully nurtured through difficult times. Its appeal is far too broad to be confined. Its universality was, and is, inevitable.

Christians should not be too hard on themselves or others for the vast secular displays of lights, ornaments, decorations, or the abundance of gift giving. The spirit of the season calls for it. It’s “an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace.” This is a phrase that goes back to St. Augustine, describing a sacrament. I think a case could be made for it as a description of the Christmas celebration. I’m quite certain that a devout person can make the distinction. Folks who claim no religious affiliation at all still feel a stirring within which calls for expression.

In any event, the festivities during these few weeks are ample proof of the ultimate goodness which is contained within most of mankind. Gifts, large and small, are the order of the day, and good will is the lubricant. Happiness and gaiety are chosen over dour existence. It is a cold and sad heart, indeed, which can utter, “Bah Humbug!”

Soon enough, we will retreat into our own personal realities. We will fight the battles and do the work that each of our lives demand. There will be no lack of generosity or caring, no dampening of personal celebrations, no less anticipation of a better world to come, but
for the most part, the gatherings will be small, and the outpourings will be meager by comparison. The coming year, 2010, appears more looming than inviting. Our best is always better than our worst, however.

Christmas is the one great occasion which seems to invite everyone to the table in some way or another. It is a wonderful communal affair, more enjoyed because of the great mingling of divergent folks in a universal and inclusive happy event.

If anyone doubts that Christmas is alive and well, let them come to Payson, Arizona.

Monday, December 7, 2009

POETRY: An Extra Hug

An Extra Hug
In honor of Nadine Enlund
By Carrie Backe

We say, "I'll see you,"
But, we never know.
We make plans for tomorrow,
But, we never know.

Give an extra hug,
Because we never know.
Call, make the visit, write,
Because we never know.

Give an extra hug
And say, "I love you."
Then it won't matter
That we never know.

Marcy Rogers found dead

Photo by Jim Keyworth
Marcy Rogers, 55, the founder and director of Payson Community Kids, Inc., was found dead Saturday evening. She started the program, now a nonprofit organization, in 1966 when she took in a 3-year-old child she found wanderng on a Payson street at night.  Today, it serves about 50 at-risk children, ages 2 to 18. More details and photos will follow.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Some struggle with 'R' word; for me, it's 'G'

I’ve always considered golf pretty boring, especially as a spectator sport. But Tiger Woods is changing all that.

In fact, the world’s most famous athlete is adding another dimension to the game – driving for dear life as your spouse chases you across the yard with a golf club. While I can understand those who feel the media should leave him alone, it’s also true that people in positions of prominence need to be extra careful – journalists included.

I know that if I ever got stopped for driving under the influence, for example, my not-so-adoring public would have a field day. I’ll bet your Payson Roundup would even break its vow of silence regarding the use of my name. Gleefully.

But unlike me, Tiger has the money to buy himself out of his mess -- including all four (and counting) of the women he’s wronged. Heading that list is his wife, who, it’s reported, is getting a $5 million bonus to re-up for two more years). If anybody doubts the relevance of Shakespeare today, allow me to remind you of one of my favorite lines penned by The Bard: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Of course for the racists among us, including those who can’t seem to find anything to like about President Obama, what happened to Tiger is proof that black men marrying honky women can come to no good. I know racists hate the “R" word, but, as my friend and colleague Noble Collins points out, it’s hard to make any sense out of the crap some people are making up and spreading about our duly elected leader.

Anyway, most of you know that I have been a bit critical of the game of golf in the past, but Tiger’s travails have afforded me this opportunity to make some clarifications regarding my position.

Mainly, The Consort and I have bought a condo in Denver that’s – are you sitting down – on a golf course. Let me quickly qualify that so it doesn’t sound quite as bad.

It’s a 1,074-yard, par 3, 9-hole course, and the community is NOT GATED. In fact, the course is open to the public at a slightly higher fee than that charged us residents (who are not, I might add, all honkies).

But, you protest, you have been a longtime critic of the game of golf as a water devouring waste of precious resources. Your protest would be right – when the game of golf becomes water wasting. As in the Valley (a desert, mind you) where there are 189 golf courses and so little rainfall, people think twice about spitting (except they really don’t because the Valley doesn’t want to cause a panic by encouraging conservation).

And in the Rim Country where precious potable water is wasted on two hoity toity golf courses in gated communities. It’s true that effluent is utilized when possible, but it’s also true that the Rim Club trucked in thousands upon thousands of gallons of potable water during a recent dry summer when the sanitary district had a problem producing effluent.

In Denver, where the average rainfall is over twice that of the Valley, a green golf course and a healthy planet are not mutually exclusive concepts.

My other objection to golf is that golf courses take up way too much precious real estate for the number of people who utilize them and the amount of exercise they afford – especially since rich people tend to use golf carts instead of walking, a practice I will never understand. Why not just hire somebody to go play the game for you and report back on how you did.

But here’s the real bad part about our two private golf courses. I have heard from several reliable sources that often fewer than 50 golfers play the two private Rim Country courses combined on a given day. Don’t even remind of how many gallons of water, potable or otherwise, it takes to keep those courses green for 50 golfers.

My third and final objection to the game of golf is that I am not very good at it. At least I wasn’t very good at it when I gave it up some 40 years ago.

But I must confess that I have purchased a set of golf clubs – used golf clubs at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, mind you. (And by the way, if you have not checked out the new ReStore between Legacy and Urgent Care, you need to.)

I have not yet played the little course in Denver, but the day will come when The Consort and I “hit the links.” In embracing the “G” word I have professed to loathe all these years, I realize I will be leaving myself open to charges of hypocrisy.

But isn’t that kind of what the world’s greatest golfer has done – become a hypocrite?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Poisoned minds desperately hide from discussion

Their goal: keep the buggy whip
factory open in an age of fast cars

Cynicism appears to be the order of the day. I see increasing evidence of it in areas never before considered. It is a blight, a mold, a cancer which has as its only food the debris left from its own attacks.

Anyone who watched our President in a speech given at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and came away with cynicism must be intentionally jaded, perhaps irredeemably so. It is simply impossible to listen to the words of this man, observe his actions and believe anything sinister about him. I have yet to see one single proof of any charge leveled against him. Instead, murky, misleading and false charges are common.

I don't believe anyone who actually investigates him or listens to a press conference, or to the State of the Union Address or any interview, or observes his actual actions, can possibly, with any sense of honorable intent, claim or agree with the outrageous cynical and cowardly accusations being so smugly passed back and forth.
If there are real disputes, why are they only stated in outlandish, grossly exaggerated and often false or greatly misleading claims, the vast majority of which can be easily disproved? Why are charts which show fresh blood being brought into government being championed as proof of incompetence? Aren't the chanters the same ones who claim we need a clean sweep in Washington?

This is not loyal opposition. The claims being made against Obama are illegitimate for the most part. They are easily disproved with a reasonable effort at seeking the truth. What does it say about their dissent when such repulsive tactics are employed? If they have honest differences, why are they not stated with facts to back them up? Instead, they hide in the shadows, throw rocks and run.

What I see is a confused and hurt bunch of folks trying desperately to keep the buggy whip factory open in an age of fast cars. The past is over. We have to deal with the mess left to us, like it or not. President Obama is doing a superb job with that.

I do not worship at his shrine, nor do I believe he is infallible. I DO believe he is the best hope the United States has had in a long time to resume its rightful place as the world's greatest nation. He has brought back reason and intellect to the White House. His words and actions are forceful, and leave no doubt as to his understanding or intent. He is praised by our allies as a man who they can trust and work with. He has an obvious mandate from the majority of the American people to bring about change from eight years of bungling and neglect.

Many are attempting to place an anchor around his neck and then claim,"See! he can’t swim!“ It is a coward’s tactic.

It will take years to climb back out of a deep hole left to us by the previous administration. It can only be accomplished by a nation willing to support a dedicated, forward thinking leader. A majority of good Americans voted to give Barack Obama a chance. I firmly believe that given that chance and a level playing field, he has the best chance of anyone of leading the U.S. in the best direction possible. A large group of cynics and obstructionists don't want to grant that opportunity. They lose power and control if it happens. America be damned.

History reveals that creating a great, free country does not always bring with it a greatly enlightened, educated civilization. Not yet, at least. We still must deal with Barbarians at the gates whose only goals are negative and destructive, who dare not give up pagan beliefs in demons and human sacrifice for fear of angering unseen gods.

Mine is but a lonely voice, perhaps, echoing back to me. I firmly believe, however, that there is a decent, intelligent majority of Americans who feel mostly the same way.

Why more people won’t stand up against ignorance and seditious Jabberwocky is a mystery to me. There should be a demand for honest debate of real issues and a rejection of cowardly sniping. Good minds can disagree. Poisoned minds desperately hide from discussion.

Noble Collins

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

POETRY: Tina's Challenge

Tina’s Challenge
By Noble Collins

(Responding to a challenge from my sister to use the following in a short story:
A parakeet, a bottle of Jack Daniels, an oriental rug and
a Christmas card.)

Green and orange plumage lay scattered upon my ancient Tabriz
Unnoticeable at first among the still-bright dyes of old Iran

I had not yet lifted my feet to the Ottoman to settle in for a quiet reading of
the day’s mail.
Bills, of course, and advertisements
and that unexpected Christmas card
with the far-away postmark.

But my eyes wandered over the top of the envelope for a quick glance
around the room.
Something was not right,
and, in horror, I saw the tiny feathers.

Oh God! No!
I must have screamed,
and scattered the mail as I ran to the brass cage -
door ajar,
yesterday’s news-paper still intact on his floor.

But no parakeet
No “Peetey”


Startled words blurted from my mouth
as my brain had yet to comprehend,

and then, just as quickly,
I knew.

Anger began to compete with dread
as I walked to the kitchen
more certain with each step,
hollow with fearful anticipation.

I had made the ultimate mistake.

It was my fault as much as his
I knew his weakness, his addiction,
yet I had left the bottle of Jack Daniels on the counter
in plain view.

And there lay Felix,
slumped against the litter box -
a tiny feather clinging to his jaw -
uttering a small “burp”
unable, even, to “Meoww”

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Our Thanksgiving colors were red and black

My greatest Thanksgiving memory was the big football rivalry between the two Flint, Mich. high schools, Central and Northern. They were perennial state powerhouses and they played the last game of the season against each other on Thanksgiving Day before some 20,000 people in Atwood Stadium.

My mother, aunt, uncle and myself all graduated from Central, so there was rarely a Thanksgiving when one of us wasn’t a student there. The big game was so important that it literally determined whether we would be joyously thankful or merely somberly appreciative on Thanksgiving.

Our Thanksgiving d├ęcor wasn’t comprised of shades of orange and brown and yellow. It was red and black, the colors of the Flint Central Indians.

Sometimes we all went to the game, sometimes not. A lot depended on the Michigan weather. But we always listened on the radio and got a firsthand report from whoever was attending Central at the time.

I remember one Thanksgiving when Aunt Elaine, then a student at Central, came home after the big game sobbing. All through dinner, she was absolutely inconsolable.

Aunt Elaine is in her 70s now and in the process of moving to Surprise, Ariz. to retire. We met in Phoenix for breakfast recently. She told me that Flint Central had finally closed, and she had attended a farewell event at the beautiful old school where thousands of former students came to raise their collective voices to sing the alma mater one last time.

Music was important at Central. I went there in the late 50s, the dawn of rock and roll, when the Platters, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers and other early black groups were just bringing doo wop to prominence.

Flint has a high black population and there were a host of wannabe doo wop vocal groups that had formed among Central students. It was common for them to perform in various nooks and crannies of the hallways between classes. Some of them were very good.

Being a honky, I ended up playing the trumpet in the 120-member marching band, a band that was one of the best in the state thanks to director Bruce Robart – one of those teachers who demanded nothing less than perfection. Performing at the big Thanksgiving game was obviously the highlight of my musical career.

In my junior year, 1959, Central was en route to becoming the state champion. That Thanksgiving, we beat a good Northern team 51-0.

It was a happy Thanksgiving indeed, marred only by the fact that the Flint Journal was on strike so there would be no story about the game the next day. Also looming just ahead was the fact that a third high school was being built and those of us in its geographical area would be forced to transfer for our senior year.

I doubt that they’d get away with that dictate today.  We'd be given the choice of finishing our senior year at the old school.  But that was 50 years ago, before kids had “rights,” back when we were told what to do and we did it.  A time, by the way, when we never complained about being bored or having nothing to do.

Anyway, the new school, Flint Southwestern, just wasn’t the same. No tradition. No wonderful old brick building. And most important, no Thanksgiving Day football game.

So when The Consort and I went back to Michigan last month, I had to take her to downtown Flint to see if Central High was still there.

It was, and she insisted I pose in front of it.  Of course it was raining, but what a rush of memories. I am standing just feet from where I got my first two traffic tickets – at the same time.

And there was the tower atop the third floor. They would never tell us what was up there, so we, of course, let our imaginations run wild. We were pretty sure it housed a torture chamber lined with skeletons of recalcitrant and intractable students. Or, more likely, just the skulls. You could only fit so many skeletons in there. And that would certainly explain that mystery meat they served in the cafeteria.

Then there was the graffiti. It was such an old school, even when I attended, that every desk (they were made of real wood in those days) was carved with romantic messages, slogans, insults and profanities.

The most frequent message on the desks, I recall, was, “Vera Shrigley is a bitch.” Vera Shrigley was an English teacher who was long gone by the time I got there, but her legacy obviously lived on.

I didn’t know at the time that I would become a high school English teacher, but I never forgot how unforgiving high school kids can be. You have to wonder if someone carved that infamous message into Vera Shrigley’s tombstone.

I vowed to pattern myself as a teacher after Bruce Robart, not Vera Shrigley. I never checked the carvings on the desks at Wayne Memorial High School to see if I succeeded.

But this is about Thanksgiving, a time to count blessings, not skulls. Hopefully, your turkey will not resemble mystery meat in any way, shape or form.

The good news at our house: Flint Central cannot lose the big game this Thanksgiving Day.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Can't trust Roundup's reliability, impartiality

There is much confusion and many false rumors about the landscaping being done at the roundabout at the Beeline Highway and Tyler Parkway.

The work is paid for and all the labor is being done by volunteers from the Payson Gateway Committee, a not-for-profit group which has spent two years and a lot of red tape unwinding to get this job done. It is a labor of love given freely to the town and all citizens. It certainly looks far better than the old pile of dirt which sat there for several years.

The true story could have, and should have, been told by the Payson Roundup. They were furnished a complete press release with pictures. They even sent a reporter over to take a look at the project.

Tothis day, however, they have refused to print a single word or show a picture about this splendid civic project. Instead, they have allowed, perhaps encouraged false rumors.

Is this what is expected from a newspaper which recently beat its chest over being awarded a "Best" in its class?

The reason for this outrage lies directly at the feet of the editor. He has a personal bias toward several members of the Gateway Committee, and refuses to allow anything connected with them to appear in HIS newspaper.

Can you imagine this, folks, really?  Does this sound like America to you?  If he can get away with this, then how can you ever trust this newspaper's reliability and impartiality again?

I repeat - one man, who happens to be the editor of the Payson Roundup, is withholding a fine civic story because of his personal bias.

It's been over a month since all the facts were given to the paper; the work has been going on for all to see. There is absolutely no excuse or explanation for the lack of coverage other than the small minded, petty actions of the editor.

Freedom of the press, you chant?

More likely control of the press by a tyrant.

Noble Collins

Monday, November 16, 2009

Why is it the good papers that are dying?

Trib's demise follows trend

Another newspaper bites the dust, and this one – like the Gazette – is too close to home for comfort.

On Dec. 31, the East Valley Tribune will close its doors after 118 years in business. In the last few years, it was regarded by most journalists as the best daily newspaper in the state.

Even more significantly, in April two of the Tribune’s reporters won journalism’s ultimate honor – the Pulitzer Prize. Paul Giblin and Ryan Gabrielson earned the coveted award for their series on the impact of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s illegal immigrant crackdown on police protection.

Green bologna and pink underwear Joe. What a colorful guy.

You can like him for being a hard ass, but in the end he sure makes heroes out of a lot of journalists and lawyers who challenge him for abdicating his first responsibility in favor of causes that guarantee his re-election. We are either a nation of law or we are not, and Sheriff Joe, of all people, is supposed to set an example.

But this is about newspapers. Especially dead newspapers.

Why is it that the good ones seem to be the ones that are folding – the ones with the highest journalistic standards, the greatest public conscience?

Maybe that’s a question that answers itself. Maybe it’s because of the dumbing down of our society. The papers with the best chance of making it today are the ones that pander to the public’s basest instincts – to the lowest common denominator.

Right here in River City, we have two papers that appeal to all that is mean in human nature – to our desire to know who got caught doing what, whose marriage didn’t work out, what 13-year-old was able to kill an innocent and unwary animal to prove his or her manhood, and all the fears and prejudices a cowboy columnist can stoke – all the while oblivious to the intentions and motives of those with the power to negatively impact our quality of life.

A mayor with an ego the size of a seven-story building is glorified by a reporter hellbent on building his own stature on a tower of superfluity. Winking, meanwhile, is a bulbous photographer turned editor who doesn’t seem to have a clue. And a rapacious publisher whose sole motive appears to be a return to power and profitability at any cost – even the truth.

In the process, two town councils are allowed to run amok (term limits be damned) and the water problem that divided them, that defines our communities is pronounced “history.” As, by the way, is the drought that may ultimately prove our undoing, as it did of those who occupied this land before us. This past week, when a forecast storm piddled out, offers yet another example of the tenacity of the drought the Roundup pronounced over – twice. Drought is bad for growth, so let’s pretend it’s behind us.

Ladies and gentlemen, you are being duped. By one newspaper that has absolutely no scruples. And by another newspaper that doesn’t have a clue – that can’t even spell a notable citizen's name correctly in a front page headline while accusing him of being a child pornographer (and that better be careful lest it end up with a John Hanna on its hands). Wouldn’t it be deliciously ironic if the Jesus freak, good news publisher from Globe was brought down over a child pornography story?

Now we hear that the ladies who broke off from the Gazette are about to break off again – to found, get this, their own newspaper. Rumor has it the Rim Country News is bleeding big time, and its parent the Copper Country News isn’t in this fight for truth and justice.

But, you ask, aren’t they in it for Jesus? Until, it would appear, they start losing money, and then all bets are off, Jesus be damned. Isn’t it amazing how Jesus and money get intertwined and which one invariably comes out on top?

Mark my words, if the girls start a new paper they will fail miserably because there isn’t a true journalist among them. And in the process, the Roundup will laugh all the way to the bank.

Because a weak and harmless competitor is really better than no competitor at all. Remember The Backbone?

Will the citizens of this community ever rise up again? Not likely without another issue of the magnitude of the Star Valley water heist and another leader with the stature and political savvy of Bob Edwards.

Right now, Kenny is playing it safe – stirring college town visions in our head, and it appears that no one from Edwards’ camp is willing to pick up the bicycle helmet knocked from his head in that mysterious, still unexplained mishap.

These are not happy times for people who value the things that good newspapers stand for.