Sunday, November 26, 2017

Holiday Reflections

The bathroom radio perched on my vanity table played uplifting Christian songs as I hunted in the drawer for my mascara.   I turned up the volume while I listened to a female calling in responding to the disc jockey's question; the course of my day changed with her message.

The question:  What are you thankful for?  The caller responded how she had been in an accident a few years ago.  She sustained head injuries and lost some memory. 

“I’m thankful for the accident.  I can’t remember the details of a hurtful time in my past so instead of rehearsing old wounds, I now spend more time praising God for saving my life.  I’m not bitter anymore.”

Her courage to admit that spoke volumes.  I imagine I’m one of many listeners who took inventory of my soul to make sure I get rid of all bitterness as the holiday season begins.  It is freeing to welcome the upcoming days to Christmas with a clean heart.

Each heart knows its own bitterness
 and no one else can fully share its joy.
  Proverbs 14:10

I hope my stateside friends enjoyed a fattening Thanksgiving holiday and you ate so much your jeans fit tight like mine.  We gathered with our family for four days cooking and baking, strolling through the shops at Los Abrigados with the children sipping hot chocolate while we admired the lights and Christmas decorations in Sedona.

Bruno behaved remarkably well with the kids.  They gave him a workout, and he slept a lot when they left!

More family arrived in town yesterday to help us celebrate Tom’s birthday.   We chose The Manzanita Restaurant with authentic German cuisine.  We rarely frequent the fancier spots in town, but everyone gave the place, “thumbs up” and I enjoyed the guitarist who played 60’s and 70’s songs.  Tom photographed his choice:  Olivia Pasta Primivera.

In the morning, we drove to Old Town for breakfast.  Afterward, we peeked in the shops for bargains.  Tom’s cousin and wife posed with us.

By the way, our family chose Honanki Trail for the family photo this year.  We had a blast as we left civilization behind and caravan-ed for miles into Nowhereville.  The photo shoot left us with frozen cheeks from smiling so big.  The photographer loved our family and sent us a teaser of our grandchildren.

I patiently wait to see her finished work in that ancient spot amidst the beautiful red rock backdrop. 

My heart is full and I am thankful for all that I have as I pause and reflect at this time of year.  Friendship is important to me, and I think of you, my blogging friends, and smile.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Family Photo

My family’s coming for Thanksgiving!  Actually, we’ll gather before Thanksgiving Day for a long four-day weekend to make the holiday work for everybody.  I’m excited!  I’m gathering recipes, cleaning the guest room and shopping for the right turkey. 

My daughters gave me an errand to do for them.  They booked a photographer and want a photo of our family.  They asked me to find an interesting background for it, preferably with red rocks.  I drove around and found a private spot just west of Sedona. 
A little history of Sedona
I like the story behind the town’s name.  Sedona Schnebly, young and newly married, moved to Arizona in the early 1900’s and settled in a tiny community known for its red rock formations.  Mr. Schnebly, a hard working farmer, transported his crops up the hill to Flagstaff.  The rocky road is still called Schnebly Hill Road today.  His wife, Sedona, served her community well.  Her hospitality became an oasis for those traveling through the area.  When the community grew, the post office needed to register a name.  Thus, Sedona was named after Schnebly’s wife.

I like the fact that the famous Tlaquepaque Village stands on the grounds where the Schnebly’s first dwelt! 

What’s the best spot for a family photo?
After driving through the outskirts of town, I noticed every hiking trail that offered a pretty backdrop also drew a crowd.  The meager parking space discouraged me.

I found a rough, private road off the main highway and traveled about 14 miles north to a place called Honanki Ruins.  The cliff dwelling features petroglyphs drawn by the Sinagua Indians between 1130 and 1280 A.D. based on archaeological evidence.   

The area took my breath away!

I’m a hummer girl, but I like jeeps too!  
The first few miles of the long road to the cliffs make up a treacherous composition of caliche rock but then it turns to a smoother red rock dirt road.  A car can make it, but a truck or jeep is best.   

A lone car appeared on the side of the road.  A couple about my age relaxed with a picnic lunch.  I enjoyed pleasant conversation with them and they knew the area well.  The husband walked with two trekking poles because he just had a knee replacement like me!  I’ll tell you, people with fake knees are everywhere.  We swapped stories!  They were so nice to take a photo of Tom and me!

Mostly, this area attracts the Pink Jeep Tours.  The informed tour guides offer detailed stories of the ruins and charge about $100 per person for a tour.

A jeep load got out and wandered by the creek.  I posed by their vehicle.  

It’s always good to include props in a family photo.   Don’t you love to see a family sitting on a sofa placed in the middle of a cornfield or meadow?  The Honanki Trail still sports a few props here and there from a movie set featuring John Wayne and Jane Russell.   At least that’s what I heard a Pink Jeep driver say.

I’m still scouting around to see if there’s other places to consider that would be private with interesting scenery for our family photo but it’s hard to beat Honanki Trail with its privacy and magnificence.

The kids liked my photos.  We may, after all, end up in this place!

Sunday, November 5, 2017


The row of bicycles at the Rec Center drew me in as I watched the cyclists pedaling fast to workout songs in their ears.  In front of their bikes a computer screen depicts a boardwalk scene along the ocean with pedestrians jutting out of the way as they speed by.    It's a fun, pretense ride but not for me back in those days when I first joined the gym. 

I remember in detail how I climbed on a bike and programmed my workout.  I didn’t realize the gentleman on my right was watching me.

“Are you okay?”   He asked.  “You look like you’re struggling.”

I could barely make a revolution with my stiff, arthritic knees but I wanted to join the pretend marathon.  I told that nice man that I better choose other toys in the playground until I get my knees fixed.   Then I headed over to the old people’s bike with the high seat and tiny pedals but at least I could ride it.

I told this story to my therapist after my release to go back to the Rec Center.  Even though I’ve only had one knee replaced, he got me to a place where I can ride a bike, a real one just like the other guys and gals at the gym. 

“I sat there and wanted to cry I was so happy I could finally do it!” I told him.

 “I did what I couldn’t do before!”  He listened carefully and nodded.  He cautioned me that swimming might be a better way to exercise, and he gave me a safe routine for my air bike at home.

However, I hurried to get well.  I should have listened to his take-it-slow approach.  I found myself, again, joining the row of cyclists a few days later.  Even though I programmed an easy ride, I wasn’t quite ready to spend quite that much time there.  I paid for it dearly the next day.  

What is my new normal?
Do you ever overextend yourself?  The Macmillan Dictionary describes “overextend” as to use more of something than is reasonable or sensible.

Over-extension can apply to any area of life, whether physical challenges or other.  I think of many ways I get out of balance.

After that experience at the gym, I took a break from exercise for two days.  When the walls begin to close in, I know I’ve been home too long.   I longed to get out of town.   The change of scenery did me good!  The turning fall leaves lifted my spirits.

I watched a disaster movie at the cinema.  The excitement of the action packed blockbuster, Geostorm, took me into a fantasy that numbed my pain and kept me on the edge of my seat for almost two hours.  I forgot where I was!

And you know what?  The next day, I felt great again!  Balance returned.

How do you relax?  Have you seen any good movies lately?