Monday, July 28, 2008

In the pleasant company of dear's like curling up in your favorite cozy chair.

Saturday night we had the privilege of hosting a small gathering with some old friends, most of which we've known for over 30 years. All the guys and a few of the ladies in this group were involved in a Christian outreach ministry called Hand in Hand back in the 70's in Phoenix.

This wasn't just some little concert that a church put on. It happened every Saturday night and for much of the time, it was held in two different locations each week. It was one of the most popular places for high school and college age kids to go if they wanted to hear amazing original music in a healthy, casual atmosphere. And best of all, it was free!

Many young people were introduced to the gospel and a non-traditional Christianity for the times. We learned how to trust God with who we were, even if we looked different on the outside.

To this day, if you ask someone who grew up in Phoenix during that time, there's a good chance they will have heard of Hand in Hand.

We were blessed to share a common vision and passion to humbly reach out thru music to those who were searching for the answers to life's questions.

Now we're blessed to still be in touch with so many of those friends from the past. Interestingly, this small group of 5 couples represented parts of 6 different performing groups from those old days, many of which are still singing and/or playing for the Lord. And check out what I just found! A recent review of the old New Beginning album. You can also find Randy's music on his website here and Dave's music here.

We had a marvelous time catching up on our lives and continuing to dream about our future. As you can imagine, the night also was filled with large doses of love and laughter. What an honor to be able to spend our time with this precious group of lifelong friends.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

One of my favorite photos of my grandmother.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Our Favorite Thing (today)
I was visiting my friend, Linda's blog just now and she posted about one of her favorite things in response to a request from Cindy at My Romantic Home. When I read her post I immediately thought of something that I had just been using a few minutes ago that is one of my favorite things in the house.

It's my green depression glass juicer that belonged to my grandmother. She had a collection of them and when she passed away (at almost 90 years old) my aunts were kind enough to give each of the kids and grandkids one of her juicers and a few of her Christmas ornaments. To give some perspective on how many that is, my grandmother had 11 children that lived to be adults. They all had children of their own, anywhere from 1 to 7 or 8 kids per the math and you'll see that it was quite a brood that she had.

My Grandma Perkins was one of the few people in my extended family that I consistently spent much time with. In the summers I used to go to her huge fruit and vegetable farm for several weeks at a time to get a change of scenery and hang out with a couple of cousins that were close to my age. It was a wonderful time. Not having to share time and space with my five brothers and sisters in our little home, an amazing farm to roam around on and the chance to see my smart, capable, enterprising, wise and loving grandma take care of the farm and make a living selling produce at her roadside stand each and every day (7 days a week).

Now she was less than 5 feet tall and what you might call "plump" (because she was a great cook and enjoyed good food), but she never sat still for more than a few minutes. Once I heard her say that she got up by 4 am to pick the freshest produce for the day and didn't usually get to bed until around 11 pm. What dedication! I really don't know how she did it.

She was an amazing woman and this little green juicer reminds me of her whenever I see it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Birthday Surprise (Day 4) This is the last one for my birthday weekend. Whew!

We woke up on Monday morning and Terry gave me my choice of doing whatever I wanted to do. Since he had been so good to me and spoiled me all weekend, I decided that I would choose something that he's always talked about doing. Whenever the subject of Meteor Crater comes up, he always comments about the fact that he's never been there but would like to go, so even though he made no requests to go there, that's where we went.
Just as we arrived a group was leaving for an hour "tour" of the crater. Basically we walked along the top edge for a short distance and heard some of the history about how they think it happened and the man who discovered, tried to mine and then preserved it for research and the public to enjoy. You can read more about it here. There was also this adorable German family on the tour with 4 little kids (about 2 - 8 years old) that just couldn't stay still. The guide (and Terry) were freaking out that they might fall down the edge of the crater, which probably wouldn't be too hard to do. The parents seemed pretty oblivious (as parents can tend to be when they're used to the chaos of having little ones). Thankfully everyone survived with no more than a scraped knee and a few tears.

The crater is essentially a massive hole in the ground where a meteor struck long long ago. It's about 550 feet deep, 4000 feet across and 2.4 miles in circumference. Cool thing is that many of the astronauts that went to the moon trained at the crater to try to simulate the lunar surface. In fact, when one of their training suits was torn by a rock, NASA realized that they needed to make changes in the design because a tear of that kind on the moon would have meant certain death.

The gray fenced area at the bottom of the crater is an area where they tried to mine iron in the early days after discovery, but were unsuccessful. If you enlarge the picture you might be able to see the full size cutout of the astronaut and American flag to give you an idea of the scale of the crater. You really can't see it with the naked eye at all from the top. It's very hard to get true perspective on the size from the ground pictures, so go to the website if you want more detailed information.
After we left the crater, we decided to drive down part of historic Route 66 thru Winslow and on to Payson then Phoenix. We had recently watched an Arizona Highways TV show about Winslow and remembered some interesting sights that we thought we'd check out...and how often are we going to get to Winslow anyway?
While driving along the highway, this train engine reminded me of my younger days when we lived just a few blocks from the railroad tracks. Whenever we were near the train we would always signal to the engineer or the caboose to blow the whistle and they obliged. My brother, Rusty ran away to California when he was only 13 by hitching rides on empty train cars too. I realize that trains may be obsolete someday. Cabooses already seem to be obsolete, which is kinda sad.
When we pulled into Winslow, first we stopped to see the statue commemorating the famous line from the Eagles song, "Take it Easy". You know the one, "standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona such a fine sight to see...".

I know it's cheezy and definitely just a way to get tourists to stop, but I took the bait and indeed stopped to snap a few photos just for fun. We also stopped at the gift shop across the street and I bought a spiffy little Route 66 coffee mug as a souvenir of the weekend.

On the way out of town we passed by their 9-11 Memorial which we had seen on the show, but completely forgot about until we saw it. There are photos here of the two twisted beams that the town of Winslow requested and received from the World Trade Center towers after 9-11. The plaque and American flag all stand at this same memorial at the edge of town. You probably wouldn't even know what it was if you were driving by, but if you get up that way, be sure to stop. I find it touching that this little town has chosen to honor the tragedy and those who died in this precious way, so far from New York, out in the middle of the Arizona desert.

After this stop we headed south thru Payson, then stopped for dinner in Scottsdale before heading home after a truly amazing weekend.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Birthday Surprise - Day 3 (part 3)
(you're probably thinking this is never going to end, huh?)

If you're looking for the winner of the book drawing, go here.

So I think I still have too much to cover in one post, so I'll just do what I can and finish the rest another day.

Sunday after Walnut Canyon we decided to visit the Arboretum at Flagstaff, which we had never heard of before. Apparently it's been around since the 80's, but that's about the same time that we moved to So Cal, so explains why we weren't familiar with it.

, it was a lovely place for a stroll as you can see from the photos, but was a bit frustrating because the map that they gave us didn't match the signs that were on the grounds which made it difficult to navigate around. We decided that the person or people who designed the map and signs obviously didn't understand the meaning of "attention to detail"...oh well, it was a nice cool summer day and we enjoyed our time there. The squirrel was in the process of hiding some acorns at the bottom of that tree, which was fun and it had been a long time since I'd seen a robin. They were so common in Ohio, but definitely not in Phoenix.

In our next post we'll head to Meteor Crater and take a drive down Route 66 thru Winslow.
And the winner is...

Thank you to all who commented on my book review and give-away from July 16th for the book Love as a Way of Life by Dr. Gary Chapman.

As promised, I gathered all the names from the post and asked my husband to choose one out of a hat (o.k., it was a bowl) . So...the winner is...(long pause) old friend (but not as old as me) Allen Lyle. Just a little background on Allen. I met him when I worked for a residential construction company in Valencia, CA. I think it was about 15 years ago, but really can't remember exactly the year. It was a high stress job doing customer service for new high-end homes in a very hot market and everyone in the customer service and construction departments became best of friends because we all worked very hard and depended on each other to get things done. I'm still in touch with many of them even now. I was looking thru photos the other day and came across this one from a Valencia Company Christmas party. Allen is the one on the far left. (notice the Alabama sweatshirt) and that quartet did an amazing job!

Allen was only in So Cal a few years, then decided to move back to his hometown of Mobile, Alabama (yes, he has a southern accent).

Since moving back we touch base about once a year or so and he has enjoyed much success in many areas. He is now the producer and co-host of an Emmy-nominated TV show called "Today's Homeowner". I'm very proud to say that I know him! Congratulations Allen, on the Emmy nomination and on winning the book drawing (which is just about as important).

And guess what everyone? I decided that I would give away a 2nd copy of the book too! Terry drew and the second winner is Jenni D. I also know Jenni from So Cal. We met at Placerita Baptist Church and enjoyed many wonderful times together as friends and families. We also had such fun being aunt and uncle to their kids, Noah and Danni, since their extended family was not nearby. Now, I'm sad to say that I looked for a photo of them and could only find this old one that doesn't include Danni. It's pretty embarrassing to say that I have probably dozens and dozens of photos of them and can only find this one. Of course, there are at least 15 boxes of photos to search thru that are obviously not organized at all. (That project is getting moved up on my list.) So Jenni, if you show this to the kids please tell Danni I'm sorry that I don't have her picture here and tell Noah that I realize that he's a much more grown up young man than we see here. You and Dave look great, so no apologies there.

The books will go out this week. And by the way, stay tuned because sometime in the next month, I'll be reviewing (and giving away) some children's books that would make great gifts for kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, etc.

And don't forget, you can't win if you don't play!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A couple of miscellaneous items...

Check out Andrew's staff listing on the Resonate studio website. Fun huh! Good job, Andrew!

And look at this hysterical site that Kevin found. This guy (I'm assuming it's a guy because a woman probably wouldn't subject their cat to these kinds of shenanigans) attached a little camera to his cat's collar and programmed it to take photos periodically so he could see what the cat was doing. Now they also sell the camera setup for other pet owners. They've even received awards for the project!

Actually it's kind of interesting, especially for an outdoor cat. The photo on the left is a SNAKE! I don't think I'd want to know that my cat was that close to a snake. Shredder's photos would be of the end of our bed, the sofa in the family room, the back of the chair in the living room, the cat dish, the cat box and once in a while a roll around on the patio outside or taking a drink from our swimming pool. She leads quite a full life for an old lady.

Don't forget to comment on my blog from July 16 if you want to be in the drawing for a the free "Love as a way of Life" book.
Birthday Surprise Day 3 (Part 2) Exploring Nature around Flagstaff

Don't forget to scroll down to my post about the book giveaway and add your comment to get in the drawing. I'll announce the winner on Tuesday night.

So, on to the next report...after the kids headed east and west, Terry and I checked into our hotel, then decided to head out to a place that we hadn't been since the kids were young. Walnut Canyon, a great place to go in the summer to get out of the Phoenix heat and enjoy the cool and green of the north country.

Walnut Canyon is filled with Indian ruins and caves in the rocks that you can actually walk in and imagine what it would have been like to live in these dwellings hundreds of years ago.

Unfortunately, when we arrived we were surprised to discover that two separate rock falls had damaged the main trail at Walnut Canyon National Monument last December, 2007, depositing a 49-ton boulder, several other large rocks, and 100 additional tons of debris on the most popular Island Trail. The slide demolished concrete stairs, handrails, and a bench. The trail was immediately closed to the public, and park staff began assessing the cleanup process. According to reports, the project has proved more complicated than it first appeared, and the trail will remain closed through at least September of this year. If you plan to go up there sometime, I'd recommend calling first to see if
the trail is open, since it serves as the only access to the cliff dwellings (the most interesting part).

Posted here are some pics of some of the wildlife that we saw. If you click to enlarge
the 4th photo you can see at least 3 different dwellings in the sides of the canyon. You can see in a couple of the other photos what the dwellings look like from closer up.

In the 6th photo from the top, you should be able to see the large bird (hawk?) flying on the right side of the picture. It was really cool to see these birds soaring below us, when we stood at the overlook.

Even though we couldn't walk down to the dwellings, we still had a nice time. As you can see the clouds were a bit ominous and we heard some thunder and got sprinkled on a little, but we look forward to that around here. It's a nice change of pace.

Next we visited the Flagstaff Arboretum...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Birthday Surprise Day 3 - Sunday (part 1- the long goodbye...)

For those of you who are interested in the book drawing, scroll down to the previous post to add a comment and get in the drawing (to be held Tues 7/22).

I thought I'd post a little bit more about my birthday weekend since the kids had to leave on Sunday, but Terry and I continued on till Monday night. I'll post it in pieces so you don't have so much to read in one sitting.

On Sunday Amy & Andrew had to head back to L.A. (7+ hour drive) and Kevin had to head back to Omaha (18+ hour drive). (I still can't believe they were all able to get there.) We all slept in a bit, then just got up, and went down to the restaurant at the hotel for breakfast. It was o.k., nothing special, so we were 0 for 2 for great breakfast places. Oh well, the dinner Saturday made up for it all.

Since the temps in Sedona were getting into the mid 90's in the afternoons, Terry and I decided to head up to Flagstaff for the last night. It's just about an hour north, but the temps are 10 to 20 degrees cooler since it's higher elevation. A & A and Kevin were both planning to head thru Flag on the way home, so we all drove in a caravan through Oak Creek Canyon and up to the Oak Creek Vista Overlook, then stopped to take a group photo and say our goodbyes.

By the way, I love the way our colors coordinated in the group photo. You'd think we had planned it, but we didn't.

We were so sad to see the kids go, not knowing exactly when we'll see them again. But we were so thankful that we had that precious time with them. You can see how sad Amy was in the photo below, and I think Kevin was wiping away tear. (just kidding) We had an amazing time!

Coming up next I'll post about our visits to Walnut Canyon and the Flagstaff Arboretum, so stay tuned...

I know I'm probably giving away any surprise, but I also posted all my favorite photos from the trip in a slideshow near the top of the right column. If you click on it, it will go to a new page and you can select the speed of viewing, etc. You'll see where we went on Sunday and Monday, but won't get the details until I post again.