Tuesday, May 29, 2012

177th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Who Knew Asphalt Could Be So Funny

That’s some pothole in front of Al’s home. It was just fixed by the  city a few
days ago.
Al, whose home is three doors down from me, has lived in the Miles Neighborhood since the ‘40s. So he knows all of the stories and when you have the time he’s always happy to tell you a bunch. If you remember, Al’s the neighbor with the 20 or so cats he and I had fixed a couple of years ago.

As I turned back on Miles during my run Sunday I saw Al getting into his car and stopped to chat a moment. “Be careful,” he warned me, “you and your car could disappear in those potholes.”

Maybe a week ago, but Mark Kerr from Councilman Frimbres’ office responded quickly to my request to repair a score of potholes in the neighborhood. Of course, the word pothole reminded Al of a political brouhaha that happened more than 50 years ago. It seems a Democrat was mayor at the time and potholes were everywhere in town. (Most of Al’s tales of trouble seem to have the word Democrat somewhere in the opening sentences. This tips me off to wake up my clever.)

Since no one was paying any attention to the problem, Al continued, street maintenance became a campaign issue in the next election. The Republicans promised to fix the streets if elected and when they were elected they did mend the potholes.

“Why do you suppose the Republicans were able to fix the streets,” Al asked with a bit of a smirk on his face, “and the Democrats weren’t?

As I gently pressed on the accelerator and began to move forward, I turned to Al and said, “Well, it’s probably because they owned the asphalt plants.”

The one thing Al has taught me is don’t come to a battle of wits unarmed.

Hunger Never Takes A Vacation
This was a holiday weekend and many folks were away, but they didn’t forget those in need. Cans and cereal boxes were on nearly every porch waiting to be picked up. Also, we even added two new participants. All and all, a great weekend.

We collected a total of 162 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $41.62, a $25.00 check and $16.62 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, May 21, 2012

176th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Bang-up Broadway

A police officer checks out the abandoned chase car that stalled in front of Bill’s and Jamie’s home on S. Cherry Street. The driver was apprehended two hours later after dogs found him hiding in the bushes a short distance from the crash site.        - Photo by Gracie -
Daniel and his girl friend Gracie had no idea they would be the first on the scene of an incredibly loud accident when they decided to check the air in their tires at Circle K around 12:18 am Saturday morning. They heard a bumper scrape the curb at the Axis Food Mart across the street and when they turned around they saw everything as if they were spectators at a demolition derby.

The speeding car veered across the street towards them and jumped the curb. Next it wiped out the mailbox and stoop on its way to crushing Jamie’s truck fender. The final slam was Bill’s car parked at the curb. The driver immediately jumped out the immobile car and ran south on Cherry Street into the darkness.

Within 20 seconds the police were on the scene because they were chasing the “good looking, well built guy” as Maen described him. Couched in Maen’s words of praise is his disappointment in the individual who obviously has so many advantages yet still behaves so badly.

The police were right behind him but they would not drive like him, shooting across Broadway at a high rate of speed. They paused briefly to make sure there were no cars in their path.

The chopper was brought in along with the K-9 Corps to look for the guy. After an hour or so of the circling spotlight—which most of us in the neighborhood were awakened by—the dogs did their job and found him hiding under a bush.

Maen heard the crash from his store and when he saw Jamie and Bill were involved, he started calling their number while standing outside their home. On the third try, Bill picked up. He said he was slow to answer because he’s a sound sleeper. Sirens, crunching metal and cell phone ring tones. I guess so!

The concern Maen had was that both Jamie and Bill were leaving on a trip to Utah to witness the eclipse. If they didn’t take care of their rides now, they would never make it.

In no time at all, Bill had the insurance companies on the line and set up a rental car and a tow truck. The next day they were off on schedule but before going they thanked Maen for being such a great neighbor and looking out for them.

Two Weeks Ago on Broadway
A neighbor with a flat right rear tire was making a left turn slowly onto Vine Street and apparently did not see the motorcycle rider heading east toward her.

Maen and I were out in front of his store chatting when we heard a horrific crash and turned in the direction of the sound just in time to see a helmeted and leather clad rider fly through the air, land hard and roll three times. Maen’s security camera caught what we saw on tape but I don’t need to see it. I can play back that awful image in my head any time I want.

Later that night the rider was released from the hospital. Some good news at least.

One Week Ago on Broadway
Two homeless men were crossing the street at Highland Avenue when the more fit gentleman told his friend to “run.” He didn’t or couldn’t and the approaching car ran over him. Daniel, who also works at the Axis Food Mart, talked to the survivor the other day and learned that the man who was run over died.

A 30 MPH Zone But Who Cares
The three block stretch of Broadway from Campbell to Highland Avenue is more than dangerous, it’s deadly. On Saturday I sat first at the light on Broadway to make a left onto Campbell. Once in the morning on my way to the Rincon Market for One Can A Week and once after lunch to go buy some dog food.

In the morning a pink scooter with a helmetless young woman driver and a helmeted male friend on the back kept encouraging me make a left against the light. With the top down, the woman’s “Come on,” and “dumb ass” words were quite audible but I could tell she had no line of sight for oncoming traffic. She was positioned on the right side of my car. If I weren’t there holding fast against her insults, she would have become someone else’s problem.

In the afternoon, I was again waiting for the green arrow when a guy on a bicycle peddled against the traffic to catch a bus. His eyes were on the bus, not the oncoming cars. For sure I thought he was going to get hit. He stopped just in time in front of me. When the green arrow showed up I let him go first.

Every time you get on Broadway leaving the neighborhood or coming home, please pay close attention to what is happening around you. Just some neighborly advice because I don’t want to see you end up in a blog like this.

The Anatomy of a Late Night DUI Chase
Maen said that on many a cool evening he has seen his neighbors at 121 S. Cherry sitting on the steps enjoying a cigarette and a cold beer. Good thing is was not so coolish early Saturday morning.
Imagine the force that caused Jamie’s truck to be thrown out of position and crunched like a soda can. Normally his truck sits in a little bit and dead center in the driveway.

Some Real Food Bargains Out There
Recently Fry’s has been advertising Van Camp’s Pork and Beans for 29 cents if you buy ten cans. Maen used his food bank collection money and bought 70 of them. Do the math, that’s a bit over 20 bucks and a whole bunch of hungry kids will be fed this summer.

We collected a total of 244lbs. of food with 70 lbs. coming from the Axis Food Mart. The money we donated amounted to $59.50, a $50.00 check and $9.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, May 14, 2012

175th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Paying A Little Tribute

One Can A Week is pure charity. The idea is to collect and donate every can and penny to the Community Food Bank; expecting nothing in return. This way, each participant knows his or her donation counts. Some people see this and my simple lifestyle and get their own pure charity ideas.

Three or four months into our program, Pauline Hechler, the former Director of Development at the Community Food Bank suggested I tell our One Can A Week story to the folks at Quaker Oats. Within a few weeks I got a grant that paid for signage on the Cabriolet and our collection carts plus a little gas money.

Two years later Pauline and the Food Bank helped pay for 60 or half of the One Can A Week can openers we passed out to our very supportive neighbors.

Kim Fuhrig, our 13th Street volunteer provided a number of free car wash coupons so I can keep our Cabrio icon sparkling.

In 2009, John Gallow, a friend and client was buying a new car for his daughter who had just graduated from college. Instead of turning in her 1992 Ford Taurus on a new purchase, John decided to give me that well-maintained auto to help with deliveries to the Food Bank. Before the Taurus gave up the ghost recently, it diligently carried over 19 tons of food to the Food Bank.

A few weeks ago, my dear friend Beth Haggerty gave me three old laptops to fix or recycle. The last one I pulled out of its carrying case was an IBM ThinkPad with Windows 98. Immediately I though of another long-time friend whom I hadn’t seen in years.

Robb Goff and his lovely girl friend Lorna were my neighbors when I lived on Vernice Street near Kolb in the mid to late ‘90s. He used to fix ThinkPads and only ThinkPads to sell on eBay. How could I forget that? So when I saw that boxy black brick I sent him an email.

Robb’s reply a few days later explained he has moved on to things other than ThinkPads like real estate, and refitting his new home with all of the renewable and sustainable materials of a “very green house.” He is even doing all of the contracting himself. That’s the one thing I really like about Robb, he always goes with the flow. Back in the day, he was one of the first sellers on eBay and into computers at the dawning of Atari.

On my side of the catch-up email I talked a little bit about One Can A Week and that we met when I was new to Tucson and just 53, some 17 years ago.

I thought that would be the end of it for a while until maybe I ran into something solar that might interest Robb. I was wrong.

Five days later Robb sent me a very touching email.

“Wonderful blog. I read about your 1 can a week idea. This is very nice. I have been giving directly to the community food bank. I also give to the council of Indian Nations/Apache Junction. I would like to ask you if I may donate directly to you. Gas ain't cheap and your efforts, not spiritually, may go unpaid at times. Pete, can I send you a check to help? I would like you to use the funds as you see fit to aid you on your quest. Just give me your address. I would be glad to help the community directly and that my friend is you! Just send me your address and I can make the check out to you if that is OK. Happy birthday too!”

What got to me most is he remembered personal things about me, too, like I do whatever is necessary to move things forward even if I have to spend what little I have.

Two days later I opened the mailbox to find a check from Robb. It paid for the second half of the poster printing job and a whole bunch of future gas to deliver our donations to the Community Food Bank.

I’m plugging away on One Can A Week and enjoying every minute, but Robb’s and my other benefactors’ thoughtfulness, and more important, understanding, has reenergized this lumbering tortoise.

All Around Great Week
There was so much food and money this Sunday I had to ask my friend Frank Campillo—who lives on Manlove Street and owns a big red Toyota Tundra truck—to help me make my Monday morning run to the Community Food Bank. The Sunny D from Maen’s Axis Food Mart accounted for 460 lbs. of the weight.

We collected a total of 652 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $92.00, two checks for $80.00 and $12.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, May 7, 2012

174th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
A Couple of Hard Cases

How quickly a good meal can turn things around for people … and their very best friends. Six weeks ago Adam (left) and Molly were in a dire struggle with the food they ate. Now Adam barks because he feels so fine. And Molly? Well, his delight is nothing but sweet music to her ears.
When research scientists discover early on in an experiment that the remedy they are testing is working way beyond expectations, they stop the experiment and make the information public. This doesn’t happen very often but it does happen.

For the past 30 years, I have lived with a total of seven West Highland White Terriers (Westies). Of the seven, four had food allergies. It is an inherent trait of the breed. Consequently, I am very into reading food labels and researching dog food brands. Anything that doesn’t start with a protein is out.

I have tried most upscale brands at the OK Feed Store on Ft. Lowell and most other national brands such as Purina, Science Diet, etc. Some work for awhile until my pups loose their tolerance to the food. I even tried frozen and home cooked food. All of this attention to ingredients led me to the conclusion that it is the formula, not the ingredients or the amounts. Besides, I think feeding 100% of a dog’s or cat’s daily requirements at every single meal just can’t be that healthy. I don’t eat like that and most humans don’t eat like that so pet food allergies might have a greater chance to turn on when you feed them a diet packed to the gills with everything they supposedly need in life.

A year ago, Nature’s Variety introduced a Limited Ingredient diet with turkey or lamb as the single protein. (There are other limited ingredient brands but Nature’s Variety is truly limited. See Dog Advisor review.)

I put Adam and Molly on the diet six weeks ago right after I discovered the food. Immediately I could tell this may work because they did not increase their itching. Adam licks his chest and hind legs eliminating the hair and darkening the exposed skin. He also scratches lots of hair off his back. Molly mostly scratches her face and her back and her eyes are watery. (Can’t see any of that hair loss in the photos taken last Thursday because their hair is back with a vengeance.)

Adam soon stopped itching altogether and started to gain weight. He eats a little more than a cup a day which has always been his normal amount of daily intake. However, he had been skinny all of his life and his hair fine. At 19.8 lbs. now, not 17 lbs., he’s looking like a mature male Westie and his hair is coarse. Perfect.

Molly is eating exactly one cup a day (her normal) and she lost weight. She went form 22 lbs. down to 18.2 lbs. which is better for her arthritic limbs. She jumps up on the bed more easily now.

I’m writing about my pets’ food adventures this week, not mine, because I know a lot of pet owners have varying degrees of dietary problems with their pets and they are always concerned but do not know what to do. Like the delighted research scientists I mention above, I wanted to get this wonderful news out as soon as possible. To see Adam, the hardest hit of the two, doing so well, has brought more than a tear or two to my eyes over the past few weeks.

I suggest you try Nature’s Variety Turkey Limited Ingredient—or Lamb—because if my chronically sick pups recovered on this diet, imagine if you only have an overweight pup?

Nature’s Variety Limited Ingredients is sold at the OK Feed Store on Ft. Lowell near Palo Verde. Petco sells the brand also but they may have to special order the Limited Ingredients diet for you.

May all your furry best friends be as well as my Adam and Molly.

Heavier Than It Looks
When I use the Cabriolet to transport the food to the Community Food Bank I’m not sure of the total weight. The Taurus’ large trunk made it easier to quesstimate. But now that the Taurus is in car heaven, I fret every Monday morning that there’s not enough food.

Even on the push up the ramp to the warehouse door with the huge door jam, I’m thinking, “not enough.” But reality hits as I try to yank the front end of the cart up off the ground to clear the 3” hurdle. Two or three times I yank on the cart handle but to no avail. To save my back I go around to the front of the cart and lift it over the lip. It weighs a ton and I’m lovin’ it.

We collected a total of 192 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $6.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,