Where There’s (Not) Smoke

The neighborhood 4th of July parade kicked off at 8 AM. It didn’t look like there’d be much of a turnout at first, but that changed as the hour approached. I didn’t count, but at least twelve of us participated: grandparents like us, younger marrieds with small children, a few teenagers on bikes. Other neighbors waited in front of their homes to cheer us on. We marched with our dogs: a first for Lulu & Fritzi, barkacious with excitement (especially when a couple showed up towing a toddler in a wagon, someone their size); just another mandatory formation for veteran Mister B. Judging by the extended naps they took afterward, all three had a grand old time. As did we.

Here we are, back in our yard after the parade:

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Up to and through July 2019, there’d be a neighborhood potluck brunch after the parade. Donna and I had volunteered to host the one in 2020 but Covid put the kibosh to it, then again in 2021. The first post-pandemic* potluck was yesterday but Donna and I reluctantly skipped it; few of our neighbors still mask and it seemed too much of a risk. Maybe next year.

*Can you really say “post-pandemic” when it’s still a pandemic?

So we retreated indoors and instead of brunch had an early holiday dinner: ribs, corn on the cob, Donna’s potato salad, her fabulous deviled eggs for appetizers, all shared with our friend Millie, who stayed to watch an episode of Veronica Mars with us afterward. It being far too hot to consider smoking the ribs in the back yard, I slow-cooked them in the oven instead. The trouble with cooking ribs indoors is you can’t smoke them, but I have a work-around:

That roiling pot of lava is my homemade barbecue sauce, which contains a liberal amount of liquid smoke. And honestly even I, a determined griller and smoker of meats, have a hard time telling the difference. Throughout the day, I stayed in touch by text with our son Gregory in Las Vegas, who was also making ribs and corn on the cob. Unlike me, he braved the heat to smoke his on the grill.

I guess it’s to be expected that 4th of July parades and gatherings are turning into mass shooting events, as with Chicago and Philadelphia. That said, I can usually tell the difference between fireworks and gunfire, and I didn’t hear any gunfire last night. The crisis is skipping over Tucson, for now anyway.

Any other kind of crisis, lawmakers, institutions, and society react … why not this crisis?


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