Sunday, February 28, 2010

I'm back and it's another pajama day

I’m back – and it is another pajama day; a ‘forced’ one! I awoke Saturday morning with a slight sore throat – could be a cold coming on or could be allergy related. Either way, I stayed in Jeremiah yesterday and today. My goal is to be back to normal by tomorrow morning. To that end I’ve been taking some over-the-counter meds, enjoying chicken noodle soup and grapefruit, lots of water and even some naps.

Today was a great day to stay in – the rain poured down last night, continuing into mid morning today. The desert is getting quite lush and green, and some wildflowers have already popped up. I’m eager to get back on the trails to discover and learn to identify the flowers.

I didn’t mean for so much time to pass since my last blog entry – I just didn’t sit still long enough to get motivated to write. There has been a lot going on.

Almost to Apache Peak Hike

Volunteer Jon organized a hike to Apache Peak (visible from my campsite). Of the eight of us, three of the guys went all the way to the top while the rest of us had no desire to go all of the way. We enjoyed the great views and got a good workout.

(left to right: Jon, Carol A, Essie, Paula, Ken, Rich, Richard, Carol R.)

Geo-caching with the McClosky’s

Volunteers Essie and Richard McClosky have gotten into geo-caching and they took me along on one outing. Katie, their dog, went also. It was an interesting hike into the backcountry.

(Essie and Rich)

On the way back we stopped at a lovely meadow formed when an old small dam filled with soil. This was a perfect place to sit and contemplate. We each found a place to ponder the wonders of life. When Essie tired of sitting on a rock, she moved onto the grassy area.

(Richard McClosky in foreground and Essie)

(Essie and Katie)

Cave Creek Trailrides

Cave Creek Trailrides, a concession here at Cave Creek Park, treated all volunteers to a lovely sunset horseback ride one early evening and treated us to a pie social another evening. What a delightful – and delicious – time we had.

Park hosts ready to ride.

Moses goes to the computer hospital

My Dell computer – yes, its name is Moses – stopped working. A call to the tech-help line – ‘Jonathan’ in El Salvador, South America who spoke great English – could not diagnose the problem. So after a shipping box arrived from Dell, my computer was sent to a facility in Texas. Of course, I could imagine the worst scenario – lost data and photos – and was concerned that somehow a virus had made it past my computer protection software. And I had been neglecting to back up my stuff.

A couple days later I got a robo-call saying Moses was fixed under warranty and on his way back. Great! That ‘great’ feeling only lasted until later in the day when daughter Sue (in Rio Rancho, NM) called to say that Moses had been shipped to the USPCA office there – not to me here in Arizona. (The computer was originally ordered from the USPCA office and shipped there.) I’m happy to have it back – it needed a new LCD cable and LCD panel. When I finally got to check my email, I had 193 unread messages and 31 messages in the Spam folder – most of them immediately deleted rather than slog through them.

Scraping the horse manure off the trails
Another pastime for park hosts is to keep the hiking trails free of horse manure! All our trails are shared use - horse riders, bicyclists and hikers. And we get a lot of horse activity due to the park's trail ride concession and the locals who bring their horses for rides. Carol Rayburn worked camera magic to get this photo of friend Barb Nielsen, Carol R and me (with my short hair!)

Books read this past month

I love the long winter evenings and time for reading. I attend the monthly used book sale at the Cave Creek Library and buy books that catch my eye – my preference being non-fiction books. At this point in my life, I don’t want to spend time reading fiction.

I’ve read another Chicken Soup book (can’t remember which one and I’ve already passed it along to others) and enjoy the poignant short stories; Marley & Me (John Grogan) and as the book jacket promised I laughed, cried and shook my head when reading this heart-warming book. A favorite passage is:

“A person can learn a lot from a dog … living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy…seizing the moment and following your heart…appreciating the simple things…and as he grew old and achy, Marley taught about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly he taught about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.

Another book is First You Have to Row a Little Boat (Richard Bode). Even though I have no interest in sailing, the bigger lesson I learned is “To sail a boat is to negotiate a life…Large goals and passions usually need be tackled from the bottom up, and to seek large truths in the small wonders of life...”

One exception to my usual choice of ‘non-fiction only’ was The Five People You Meet in Heaven (Mitch Albom, also author of Tuesdays with Morrie). This fiction book was a bit difficult to get into – but well worth it.

At one book sale, I was looking for the book named Coop (by Michael Perry). It came highly recommended by my Prescott Valley friend Connie Kramer. The clerk at the sale was familiar with it but didn’t have a copy. They did have Truck, a love story, by Perry. This author has an interesting writing style, described by the Chicago Tribune: “Perry takes each moment, peeling it, seasoning it with rich language, and then serves it to us piping hot and fresh.” The book was entertaining and provided me with some nuggets: ‘I’m beginning to get a sense of all I will leave undone in this life…I’m not desperate, just hungry to fill the time I am allowed.’ He also referred to the Internet as ‘the Devil’s Mind-Fryer.’

I started reading a couple other books – Jeff Foxworthy: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem (supposedly a biography, but it was not interesting to me and not funny at all), In Spite of Myself, a memoir by Actor Christopher Plummer (After three chapters it was still boring so this 645-page book of egotistical name-dropping was set aside.) Currently I’m reading The Woven Figure – Conservatism and America’s Fabric (a collection of George F. Will’s columns and other writings from the 1900s).

Books waiting on my shelf include: Converting the West - biography of Narcissa Whitman; My Journey – memoir by Robert Schuller; My Girlhood Among Outlaws, biography of Lily Klasner; The Desert Smells Like Rain – A Naturalist in Papago Indian Country by Gary Paul Nabhan; Before Lewis and Clark by Shirley Christian; and The Evolution of Useful Things by Henry Petroski. And the next book sale will be this coming Friday and Saturday! I wonder what I’ll find to bring home!

My Great Summer Adventure – 2010

Yep, I’m plotting my summer motorhome travels, leaving my Prescott Valley home on May 5 and returning in late October. This adventure starts when I celebrate my 50th college reunion (Arizona State College, now Northern Arizona University). Known as The Golden Grads, we wear gold robes and caps and sit on the front row to be honored during the 2010 graduating class commencement.

After that I’ll spend a week or so in the Rio Rancho (NM – my old stomping grounds). From there I’ll mostly meander back roads as I travel through the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana (to visit granddaughter Melody and her husband Derrick; my farthest point east) back into Illinois, a bit of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa (for the annual Winnebago sleep-over), South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and back to New Mexico as a two-month volunteer stint at Navajo Lake State (NM) Park. Finally I end in Prescott Valley and then make a car trip to the San Diego area for my annual medical checkups.

Stay tuned as I pin down routes and places to stay.

Well, that’s all for this entry. I can be reached via email –

I leave you with these thoughts on the brevity of life:

Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they lack time or are too rigid to depart from their comfortable routine. Because Americans cram so much into their lives, we tend to schedule our headaches. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect.
Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter and the list of promises to ones self gets longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of “I’m going to,” “I plan on,” and “Someday, when things are settled down a bit.”
When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift thrown away. Life is not a race. Take it slower. Hear the music before the song is over. Life may not be the party we hoped for; but while we are here we might as well dance. – Author unknown