Things Go Missing

Twin Rocks Cafe Bluff Utah

Objects disappear when traveling.  On our recent trip to the Southwest in the Pleasure Way van pictured above, the biggest loss was a hundred dollar bill. You can’t lose one of those without a little concern.

I had the bill in my hand and was making my way to the front of the van when traffic was stopped in Farmington by students who were taking a collection from passersby.  It was as if I were a magician instead of someone who had been asked to take it into a store to make a purchase to change a large bill.

The Skipper of the rig pointed to one of the eight small cupboards and said, “Where did you put the computer cords?  I always keep them right here.”

“You’re right,  They aren’t there,” I fretted, running my hand among the items in the ledge over the door.  It was where I put them for you last night.”

How do things go missing on a trip?  The cords vanished just like a box of oatmeal that Skipper had taken from the large box behind the van and put, he thought, in the entrance.

None of those things ever showed up.  Any more than the campfires and warm weather I had envisioned for the ruins of Chaco Canyon, the Arches, Mesa Verde.  Upon arrival, it was either too late at night, too windy or cold.  The Four Corners region can feel unfriendly when it comes to weather.

At one campground, we met a retired pediatrician who was a good organizer.  “My wife and I worked things out our first days on the road.  She has her places and I have mine.”  The couple had rented their home in the East and were touring to find a place to relocate.  “Does this mean that you are full timers?”  He frowned at the thought.

For a review of the Twin Rocks Café pictured above, check out my next blog.

Cafe Has a Special Twist

Twin Rocks Cafe Bluff Utah

A Utah park ranger mentioned this café in his line up of the Anasazi ruins we should see.  “President Clinton gave the people of this area a dam and in exchange received miles and miles of mesas with ruins.  He gave archeologists ten years to study the ruins which would be covered by water.  The artifacts they uncovered are here at this museum.  In Bluff, you might like the Twin Rocks Café.  I go there all the time.”

Skipper, the driver of the little Pleasure Way van in which we were traveling, said, “Why do you want to go thirty miles each way out of our way to go to a café?”

“With so few restaurants in this remote area, it might be as big a tourist attraction as any ruins.  The Anasazi sited their villages in twin fashion, from entrances to their religious kivas to the places they chose.  I’ll bet this café is similar site worth seeing.”

I chose pancakes with fruit topping and sausage.  Skipper delighted in a breakfast burrito called a “Supper Burrito.”   The food was creatively served and hot off the griddle.  It was delicious.

An exquisite gift shop attached to the café had the most expensive jewelry I’d seen in one place.  My favorites were a six thousand dollar very light blue, almost white, bracelet of turquoise blue.  Other designers displayed thin bracelets of silver with little gold raised figures of horses.  Oh, my, if I had dollars to spare, this would have been the place.

I left happy with a turquoise top with a silver horse design and a memory of meal never to be forgotten.

Their Sandals Left Messages in the Sand and Dust

They came here by the thousands to build the massive cities and kivas and left their tracks in the sand and dust.

They came here by the thousands to build the massive cities and kivas and left their tracks in the sand and dust.

They were walking people, these ancient ones who lived on the Colorado Plateau in the early centuries.

I saw several of their sandals in two fine museums, Anasazi and Edge of Cedars.  I marveled at the delicate and woven patterns raised slightly along both soles.  I thought, “They are leaving a message through the  zigzags and square-edged spirals in the sand and dust.  Wherever their feet went, they  said where they were going, or why they were going.”

A National Park ranger at Mesa Verde told us she saw a turkey feather blanket at Edge of Cedars.  “I could picture a woman with such cape over her shoulders as she was on her way to a kiva to a ceremony,” she said.  “They raised turkeys for feathers and food.”  When I saw this blanket, I could, too.  The weaving of such a lovely and practical garment took someone very accomplished.

Even more astounding was reportedly the only one of its kind in the world — a sash woven of feathers of tropical red parrots.  Who today can weave such lasting wonders?  The feathers remain intact.  They are almost as bright and vivid today as they were centuries ago.  How did they get and raise parrots?  Did their wide roadways of stone and mud curbs, still visible through the mesa and hand-holes over mountains, connect their sites with the people of pyramids in Mexico?

More in my next blog about ceremonial kivas and the amazing reconstructed beautiful one at Aztec, New Mexico, a special site with peace and tranquility, unlike so many others with stranger tales to tell.

Turkey Feather Blanket

Adventuring in Chaco Canyon

Between 800 A.D. and 1300 A.D., the people of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico built great cities and houses of 700 rooms.  Wide roadways led to other civilizations.

Between 800 A.D. and 1300 A.D., the people of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico built great cities and houses of 700 rooms. Wide roadways led to other civilizations.

Next week at this time, I should be here among these great cities.  Once I marched up the pyramids in Chicken Itza, the Mayan ruins in Mexico.

That visit in Mexico led to an even bigger adventure when I wrote and produced the fifteen chapter Public Radio drama, The Curse of the Red Jaguar.  A writer never knows when a person, place or thing will inspire them.  Maybe it will be the Anasazi people.

Chaco, a National Park, is located in a very remote area of northern New Mexico near what is called “Four Corners.”  A rough dirt road leads into this immense area in efforts to keep people from illegally digging for artifacts.  The sole campground offers dry camping, no water or electric available.

There appears to be a spiritual quietness here, a special place where earth and sky touch.  Like Mayans they tracked celestial events like the moon’s l8.6 year orbit and the sun’s winter and summer solstices.

There are many who have written stories of about this place:

Stephen Allen Brown, 2006, Shadows of Chaco Canyon, gives his version of this heritage site.

Kathleen and Michael Greer, People of the Silence, 1996.  A girl flees her village after a dying Anasazi chief orders she be found and killed. The Greers, who are archaeologists, have written many others.  The Visitant, l999, blends the past and present as archeologists uncover a mass grave, while a killer stalks victims in both times.

Others, too, like Barbara Wood and Daughter of the sun, is a tale of an Anasazi woman captured by Toltec raiders and gives a possible answer to why the Anasazi abandoned Chaco Canyon.  Ardith Mayhor, tells a story of a young Anasazi man.  Judith Redmann Robbins, Coyote Woman, a coming of age story of an Anasazi girl.  Linda Lay Shuler, She Who Remembers, is about a woman of the Anasazi.

I promise to take pictures.  Will you be waiting?

Laughter, The Great Medicine

When you laugh, you feel alive with joy.  Add more to your life.

When you laugh, you feel alive with joy. Add more to your life.

I intend to laugh more. Be more playful. To never to be too busy to play. To be more awake to seeing more ways to take laughter as a medicine.

This is a challenge for those of us who are Scandinavian. I visited Sweden and was told by a Swedish newspaper publisher, “We like to laugh. But, we do it inside ourselves. I have to hire humor writers from other countries.”

I am finding that I’m laughing at the antics of the genetics professor in the Australian novel of The Rosie Project. His charming exploits unfold in a WIFE PROJECT. He is looking for the perfect one who fits his rigid specs, because that’s how he lives his life: scheduling the same meal on the same day of the week, looking at life the one no one else sees it, while at the same time is a brilliant guy trying to learn how to have sex with a skeleton (the same one he used to teach himself dance steps).

Rosie doesn’t fit his criteria but through her he learns to see life differently.

By the way, don’t you just love spending time with people who bring out the “kid” in you?
Simsion, the author of Rosie, has created a great companion with for you to expand your laughter. The best of all is Nelson DeMille in his novel, Plum Creek.

Guests Love This Kind of Party

Nothing could be more fun or easier for a host than giving this kind of party.  Read on.

Nothing could be more fun or easier for a host than giving this kind of party. Read on.

It’s a rare thing to put on a party and know it going to be full of surprises. Even if you have a teeny-tiny place, this one is so easy you’ll want to start thinking now about having a . . .

FORTUNE BOWL PARTY. First Step: Choose any two bowls that are handy.
Second Step: See how Barbara Thisted of Spokane, WA. did one with
glamour and ease.

Now Barbara lives in a very small condo. She was inviting thirteen guests. The menu was a meat casserole and all the trimmings. Desert was the only purchased part of the deal. She loves a good cherry pie and knows where to get them. Everything else was prepared in her little kitchen.

Third Step: When guests arrived, she invited them in and got them
talking together. Then, she passed around the first of

It was filled with a job for each of the guests. One job was to be bartender, regardless of experience. And that’s what really made it fun. Each guest had THEIR special way for their drink.  Barbara had a small end table nearby which held glasses, an ice-bucket (for the guest to fill at the refrigerator) and beverages.

Another person passed a tray of hors d’hoeurves (a list of ingredients was in the refrigerator for them to assemble piled on a tray).

After than hour or so passed, others had their jobs to do and went into action. Two pulled two tables into the living room, opened them and brought chairs from wherever they could find them.

A tray of napkins and silverware had been prepared ahead by Barbara for the person who got the job of putting on tablecloths and setting the tables.  She stored this in the bedroom.

Others worked in the kitchen to do the final preps of the food.

One person passed the food family style after everyone was seated.

SECOND FORTUNE BOWL: After dinner the party went into reverse and within what seemed to be minutes the dishes were taken to the kitchen and washed, the tables and chairs returned to their original places, and guests were enjoying an after dinner drinks prepared by a guest who pulled that job description.

Everyone got involved. They laughed and delighted in all the roles that they had played.
“This was one of the best parties I’ve ever attended,” was the common consensus.

Heartbeaking Honesty

The power of words is shown by this young lady who likes to write and to speak.  She has a beautiful future/

The power of words is shown by this young lady
who likes to write and to speak. She has a beautiful future/

A few days before her 17th birthday, Kelsi Budinger’s sermon, in her Seattle area youth groups service for a Unitarian Church, brought tears and applause from the congregation.

This is an abbreviated version: “At my school when you’re a sophomore, you’re required to take Health in order to graduate. In that class, we do something super cool, called panels, where students from the school come in and talk about their experiences with whatever the topic might happen to be. I did the panel for suicide and depression this year and I’m about to do it again this semester.

“One thing I talked about is how to tell when someone is depressed. My answer is ‘you can’t.’ Some of the happiest people around actually may be the ones who are hurting the most. Sometimes they let their sadness show. and when people ask what’s wrong, they just say, “I’m really tired.

“Brave faces have been my life since middle school and possibly earlier. My biological mother left when I was two, and that shook me up. I’ve had residual pain and anger about it ever since, and, though it may be irrational, I wonder if it was because it was I wasn’t good enough for her. I know that’s not the case, but the thought has crossed my mind many times growing up. but I’ve learned to hide it. I learned not to cry about it every time I thought about her. I learned to smile and laugh. But my version of laughter is always the real thing. This isn’t to say that I never feel happiness, or that I never smile for real. I’m saying I know how to hide my pain now.

“When someone hurts me, I don’t let them see it very much, because I’m too proud, or I’m trying to protect them. I know I can turn to my parents or other friends to talk, but sometimes I feel like a burden, or I feel like they’ll think my problems and feelings are invalid.

“This is what people struggle with every day because of the culture we live in, because of the things people say and do. Many people tell those with problems that their problems are stupid, that they just need to get over themselves. It hurts to be that person whose feelings have been invalidated. The brave faces are put on to protect ourselves from further hurt.

“What needs to happen is that people need to let others talk things through. People need to be supportive of their friends and family. So go out and support them. Be that rock, or, if you’re the one struggling, insist that someone be there for you.

“Stand up for yourself. Because you deserve it, and society doesn’t understand that yet.”

Busyness Can Be a Disease

Julie Crist is wise.  We reached her at AccuPlanet, an alternative health business in Colville, WA, to ask why doing nothing is better than doing.

Her first response is to quote Mahatma Gandhi who said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

“Our chronic busyness is not normal or healthy, and most of the other humans on the planet don’t live life like many of us.  You can eat right and exercise but if you neglect your mental and spiritual hygiene, you are probably cutting the benefits from all your hard work by at least half.  That’s how important it is to bring your entire life to a halt on a regular basis.

“This is not easy.  All of us trying to survive in America today are under constant attack to ‘be more productive.’  In my job, every minute of the day is scheduled. This is every bit as pathological as a flu bug.  However, my time off is holy, and my home is a sanctuary where I recover.  I try to give my soul room to breathe and reconnect with my natural rhythms by NOT scheduling anything that is not necessary.  I drink in all the quiet time I can.  I rarely ever pick up the phone or get on the computer on my days off and we don’t have TV in the house.  An occasional movie is it.  In a word, my weekends are antisocial.”

Then she quotes Master Zhongxian Wu: ‘My first feeling about life in American culture is that life is a rush . . . When I first came here, it was a big shock to see that everyone had a schedule book.  As I started working with people in the U.S., I found that everything had to be planned ahead.  I felt that I could not enjoy the moment when I tried doing this. I had to think about what I would be doing in the next hour, even in the next minute.  It seemed to me that one day’s life was not whole.  It was divided into many small pieces.  I have tried not to make too many plans in a day, but I have never used a schedule in all my time here. I try to maintain my daily oneness in life.’

Says Julie about one of her biggest lessons about daily oneness is to STOP over-extending and over-committing, but most of all to ignore as many of her brilliant ideas as possible:  ‘Oh, Wouldn’t it be great if we built a . . . over there, took a trip to . . . bought anomedium_3889243610ther . . .  Did this, did that, went here or there?

“No, it wouldn’t.” she declares with conviction.  “It would mostly be more clutter to manage, more time wasted, more stress and less freedom and joy.  More and more I tell my chattery  mind to shut up.  Simplify, simplify.

“Pick one thing today not to do.  Give yourself an entire day unscheduled.  Stop multi-tasking.  Take a day off from the phone and computer.  Give meditation a try.  Spend some time outside and drinking tea.”

If you can, it will clean and nourish your mind and spirit.

The Truth Underlying Snowbirds

A Snowbird flies from the North to the South for winter months.  This one explains it keeps its spirit when going through storms.

A Snowbird flies from the North to the South for winter months. This one explains it keeps its spirit when going through storms.

In the story of Snowbirds, a little vintage recreational vehicle breaks down so many times that those interviewing the author always want to know, “With so many troubles, weren’t you discouraged?”

When responding to Mike Ward, the editor of RV Life, the answer had to be brief because he had so many other questions. “No, because then we could with no problem park in the lot, or on the street, of any auto repair shop.  Undoubtedly, there might be a real need for repair, part or diagnosis.  And, thus we met so many fatherly mechanics who not only fixed the problem but provided learning skills for us.”

But, the real truth underlying his and the same question from others, is this: How does one face adversity?

Because of our belief in the power of attraction, it means that we feel responsible for the quality of all our experiences, so why not enjoy what happens even when you find you’re stepping into a pot hole in your journey through life?

Unexpected or challenging experiences are placed in our paths for unforeseen reasons.  If one faces life and lives in the present moment, life becomes awesome.  The experience of living through something challenging is spirit-filled and infectious in their revelations if your heart is open to seeing them.

Therefore, you are not a victim or feel anxious because you are trying to escape the present by having illusions of something different.

Overcoming adversity means to integrate and accept any life experience no matter how difficult.  Thus, the uncertainties of life do not hold fear. That’s why any story worth it’s salt asks this question.

Kindergarteners Among Super Bowl Fans

super bowl party

Hey. Hey. Hey.  In Washington State we’re the ones who are the twelfth members of the Seahawks team.

The case for folks here being the most devoted fans in the US is strong.  The symbol #12 perches on clock towers, city halls, on the habits of nuns, flies high on newspaper banners and homes.  It’s everywhere.

The support for Seahawks began showing up early.  Just visit the kindergarten kids at Jefferson Elementary in Spokane.  In Andrea Sims’ class they have been wearing blue and green every Friday since September.  They’ve mailed Christmas cards to Seahawk’s quarterback Russell Wilson.  They took a picture with a poster of him and wrote sentences about what they would do if they could spend a day with him.  Just prior to the big game, they had a party for another kindergarten class and discussed the game.

They also talk about how it’s not winning or losing but Wilson’s philosophy of never giving up, says Sims who says she is the most fanatical fan ever.   There is a good case for this vision at their last game which sent the Seahawks off to the Super Bowl.  They were behind with two minutes to go when the miracles begin happening and they went into overtime play.  It was boring until those two magical minutes.

Don’t know Sims but have heard of other similar devoted fans.  There is a woman in Wisconsin who covers her television screen and front door with black cloth when her team loses.

According to a poll of THOSE WHO KNOW, five experts say the Patriots will win in tomorrow’s Super Bowl.  Only two are standing by the Seahawks.   Whatever happens it’s fun to see folks in Washington State as excited as the fans I’ve witnessed in Iowa.   Before this era of the Seahawks, I thought Iowans were the most spirited for a football team, be it the Hawkeyes or a high school team.

It’s a lot more fun and exciting when you can ENTER the spirit of a game!