Page A2 / The Joan De Arc Crusader / Monday, December 25, 2023

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“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.” – Voltaire


Letter from the Editor

Learning to love Christmas in Phoenix
by J. Bueker

     I spent my first four Christmases in a strange and remote land sometimes referred to as “Michigan,” and while I do retain some tenuously wispy memories of those long-ago Yuletides, they seem now to belong to an entirely different lifetime in an alternate reality. Our family departed that distant realm exactly 60 years ago this year, but a few scattered impressions from our old home still persist.
     For one thing they had this remarkable form of frozen water back there that blanketed the outdoors during the colder months, rendering the white landscape that seems so inseparable from conventional notions of the Christmas season. Meanwhile in Phoenix we’re lucky if we get a bit of cloudy drizzle and can see our own breath on Christmas Day. Yet our new home in Arizona did offer some nice seasonal recompenses if you looked closely enough; we gradually perceived some distinct advantages to enjoying Christmas in the desert.
     Of paramount importance, unencumbered by the snow and ice, we kids could more easily play with our new toys on the big day. That shiny new bicycle Santa left under the tree is of limited utility in a frozen environment with icy streets and slippery sidewalks. The warmer weather also meant that we were free from the burden of wool coats, heavy jackets, gloves and annoying scarves as we rollicked through the neighborhood with our new Man from U.N.C.L.E. gear.
     Another key advantage to being in Phoenix at Christmastime was the presence of our grandparents Howard and Lois, who hosted a series of sublime Christmas Eve gatherings that would become one of our family’s most treasured holiday memories from the 1960s. Virtually all the Christmas photos I have from my childhood were taken at Grandma’s house on Christmas Eve, which is nice, although I do wish Mom and Dad had taken a few snapshots at home on Christmas morn.
     One conspicuous Christmas sacrifice that resulted from our move to Phoenix was the traditional chimney and fireplace, of which 3219 was bereft. This led to the deeply perplexing issue of how Santa would now gain access to our living room to deposit his goodies, and such a troubling conundrum was not so easily resolved. My father however rose to the occasion quite admirably, cleverly ad-libbing that Santa obviously climbs in the window at homes where a chimney is sadly unavailable. This turned out to be a perfectly plausible and convincing explanation for a deeply concerned 5-year-old.
     Overall though, Surrey Heights proved to be a pretty nice setting for Christmas festivities. We had great neighbors, lots of kids, a terrific school, a wonderful little shopping center, and in sum, ‘twas just a splendid time and place in which to make merry. I can’t imagine a single thing for which I would exchange any of those Joan De Arc Christmases, not even that festive frosty winter wonderland we left behind all those many Christmases ago. Especially not for that! Merry warm and sunny Christmas!
     Maybe we’ll see our breath this year.


A fond and Frank farewell

"Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all." -- Aristotle

     Sahuaro School early on acquired a notable and enduring reputation for its stellar faculty and staff. Why so many first-rate educators were drawn to this time and place is an inexplicable but very happy accident of fate that benefitted countless children in our neighborhood over the last sixty-odd years. This past summer, one of the most highly acclaimed and memorable of these gifted educators sadly departed from us.
     Where to even begin. A master teacher of power and precision, Nancy Frank arrived at Sahuaro in the fall of 1961 and quickly established herself as an innovative and resourceful instructor with an absolutely inexhaustible work ethic. Yet she was so much more than this; Miss Frank mentored and inspired countless Sahuaro teachers over the years and became equally well known for her enduring care and concern for her students, with whom she would maintain contact for many years after they left her classroom. Nancy Frank exemplified the equal importance of a teacher’s mind and heart.
     When Miss Frank finally retired in 1993 after 32 epic years in her Sahuaro classroom, she immediately prepared her encore performance. Continuing her work at Sahuaro as a volunteer, she logged over 3000 hours as a tutor for OASIS, a national education and service organization. Nancy ultimately signed on as Volunteer Tutor Coordinator, training up to 20 adult tutors each month. In 2009, she was awarded a coveted Award of Excellence from the National Retired Teachers Association for her tireless volunteer work.
     What a legacy. The ultimate role model, Nancy Frank expertly educated both the minds and the hearts of countless Sahuaro students for over four decades and prepared countless other teachers to do the same. An extraordinary educator and human being from start to finish, she long ago earned our ceaseless amazement, gratitude and respect. Rest easy Nancy and beautifully done, ma’am.

Only the Fabs

     There is but one rock band that could offer up a new hit single 53 years after their sad dissolution. Guess which one. Just guess.
     Released last month, “Now and Then” is surely not the greatest masterpiece the Beatles ever bequeathed the world, but we find it a lovely little John Lennon composition and a worthy addition to the greatest musical canon of our lifetimes. A delicate and rather melancholy psychedelic ballad, the song appears to comprise a loving and conciliatory message to Paul McCartney—well, we like to think so anyway, and it’s as good an interpretation as any. Paired with the Fabs’ very first single “Love Me Do,” the new record furnishes us with fitting bookends to the band’s more than illustrious career. Sixty years on, the Beatles continue to amaze.
     There was a magical time long ago when the release of a new hit Rolling Stones album and a new hit Beatles single were very routine occurrences. That these things can still happen in the year 2023 though is quite astounding and simply cannot be allowed to pass without comment. Time waits for no one and of course it’s only rock ‘n roll, but we are very pleased indeed to see that these blokes are not quite ready just yet to let it be.




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Chuck’s Handy-Dandy Guide to Retirement

     You know, I’ve been retired for a few years now and I get a lot of questions about retirement. Questions like: what’s retirement like? How do I prepare for retirement? Have you heard about this stupid Medicare Advantage plan? And, why don’t you get out of the way, Grandpa? This has inspired me to write my very own retirement planning guide and I’m happy to share it with you today. Let’s put on our reading glasses and get started, shall we?

Preparing for retirement

You really can’t start preparing for your retirement too soon and the moment of your birth is a great time to start. Denying yourself any and all of the pleasures of life from an early age works twofold: it allows you to funnel all of your available income into sketchy investment schemes, and then prepares you for the lifestyle you might expect as those investments invariably disappoint. Digital currencies, NFTs and timeshare properties are great ways to gamble your money away, and cat food is after all a great source of protein and rare-but-essential animal organs.

Enjoying your retirement

So, you’ve put in forty or more years of hard labor working for somebody that lives in a much nicer neighborhood than you and then you find yourself forced out of a job because of your age. Congratulations! Now you’ll have time to enjoy all of the many things that take so much longer than they used to, things like standing up, or remembering where you left your car keys/sunglasses/vital medications. And don’t forget to take advantage of senior discounts on products you totally need like TikTok memberships and childcare.

Tips and tricks

·         Don’t ever get sick. Seriously, you can’t afford health care.

·         Driving down the street with one turn signal on for no reason is the perfect way to let other drivers know that you’re retired and deserve their respect. Be sure to stay well below the speed limit because, hey, you’re in no rush!

·         Installing a Ring doorbell is a great way to keep an eye on your lawn and you can even remotely yell at the kids who dare walk on it, if you can just figure out how that feature is supposed to work.

     Well, that’s about all I have time for today. I’ve got to stand up and find my car keys in a little bit. Here’s wishing you all Happy Holidays and best wishes for the New Year, Twenty-whatever it is!


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