Holbrook enters Jurassic World–and gets a surprise

Where dinosaurs roam...even when they aren't supposed to!

Where dinosaurs roam…even when they aren’t supposed to!

Our nephew Andy, who is visiting from his home in Page, asked if we would like to go and see Jurassic World tonight. Of course, we grew up with the Jurassic Park movies, and we wondered if this new one would be as good. We agreed with pleasure.

The new owners of Holbrook’s Roxy Theatre now bring movies to town earlier in their run. Since this movie only premiered yesterday, we were excited to see it available here tonight. We were also excited to see the theatre–which is surprisingly large for its location in a tiny town like ours–be nearly 100% full.

The best moment in the film for our audience happened early on,when Clare (our lovely heroine) asks Owen (brave former military hero) if he can find a dinosaur by scenting it. “Lady,” he says, staring at her, “I’m Navy, not Navajo.” I wonder if the producers of the movie ever imagined a theatre filled with an audience of at least half Navajo folks hearing this line!

A ripple of hearty laughter and a few cheers ran through the audience. Everybody got a kick out of it. It aided the community feeling of the night and provided some extra fun.

Not that the movie needed it–good, corny, nostalgic fun from start to finish. A little fear and trembling was part of the appeal, a lot of wonderful digital dinosaurs that you’d swear were alive, a pack of hungry but partly trained velociraptors, two cute brothers who ran into quite a lot of trouble, and the familiar background music we’ve been humming ever since we got home.

No place like Holbrook on a Friday night, that’s what I say!

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Clear Creek

Campsite at Clear Creek

Campsite at Clear Creek

I caught this little guy in the midst of shaking his head.

Shaking his head–probably wondering “Who is that woman?!”

For our monthly camping trip in April, we went to the Camp Verde/Clear Creek area to set up our temporary household. As you can see, our camp is far from luxurious, but it has the familiar feel of home because we’ve used the same equipment so many times. Though it is basic, we’ve found ways to make our campsites comfortable, chief among them the cots we use for sleeping. Once you’ve passed 60, as we have, sleeping on the ground loses some of its charm and getting up becomes a tricky exercise!

Clear Creek and its surrounding area held several interesting places to visit. One was the Old V Bar V ranch, now a state park. It contains some extremely well preserved rock art sites. The other was Montezuma’s Well, a unique small spring whose water never fails no matter how dry the area becomes. Best of all, desert wildflowers bloomed wherever we went–past their best, but still very beautiful. Here are some of the photos from our trip.

Claret Cup Cactus (I think)

Claret Cup Cactus (I think)

Petroglyphs at the V Bar V Ranch State Park

Petroglyphs at the V Bar V Ranch State Park

In the petroglyph, the spiral symbol near the left side of the picture is one of a series of spirals at the site. Curiously, at each of the solstices of the year, a shaft of light from the top of the cliff above will cross one of them exactly. The ranger there speculates that they may have been part of a calendar or other time-reckoning system. Interesting, isn’t it?

Ancient dwelling places seen from across Montezuma’s Well. See the black doorways beneath the top rock layer?

As far as anyone knows for sure, Montezuma never had anything to do with this site, and the origin of the name is uncertain. Whenever I see ruins like these, I wonder at the amount of work it would have taken to live in them–climbing up to the gardens above on the rocky shelf, and climbing down again to sleep. Imagine raising children in a cliff dwelling with water beneath it and sharp rocks all around. I’m filled with admiration for the people who did these things.

It was a wonderful couple of days, though the nights were still chilly for camping. We’re already looking forward to next month.

More interested in whether I had something for him to eat than in posing for the camera.

More interested in whether I had something for him to eat than in posing for the camera.

Globe Mallow, my favorite wildflower.

Globe Mallow, my favorite wildflower.

A Small Town Easter

I know Easter can be wonderful in large cities, because I’ve enjoyed it in them at times. But our small town Easter this year topped them all for me.

Our Seder supper on Thursday night is becoming a real community event. We had more people stuffed into the fellowship hall at church than we could have imagined would fit. Lamb, eggs, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs were served, and foot washing by Jeff at one station and our city’s mayor at the other really moved the people who attended. Nothing seems to bring the message home like the visual participation of Maundy Thursday’s last supper.

Friday brought its somber note. Jeff borrowed a full sized cross (from the Baptist Church) and propped it in the sanctuary doorway, so that we entered under the shadow of the cross. We followed the last words of Christ and pondered their meaning.

I had to smile at the end of the service, though. Our congregation’s nature is not responsive to the bulletin note to “leave in silence.” We left the sanctuary in silence, but the fellowship hall buzzed with conversation. I glanced over at Jeff, and he just shrugged, chuckled, and joined in the chatter. People do feel the sober message of the service, but you can’t fool us–we know Sunday is coming!

On Saturday, the majority of the congregation gathered to give the church a good cleaning for Easter. Windows were washed, new gravel spread in the parking lot, and brass candleholders denuded of their layers of wax for the coming service. This year, we’re having a bumper crop of lilacs around town, and vases of them competed with the lilies in fragrance. You could feel the excitement building as everyone worked together in preparation.

On Sunday morning, the sanctuary looked and smelled like Easter. Jeff’s message was full of laughter and joy. A choir of 11 or 12 people led the amazing music of the day.  And the words of the lessons told us over and over: this is why we are here–this is what we believe to be true–we are safe and forgiven because of what happened at Easter.

A few years ago, God gathered 7-10 folks for worship at Peace. This Sunday, He brought 61 of us, and it felt like another miracle of the day. Many churches would close their doors if all they had was 61 folks, but for us, it was manna and blessing and great abundance.

Afterwards we ate together in the fellowship hall, in the sanctuary, out under the roofed gazebo in the yard. More talking–with guests camping in the area, with co-workers who responded to our invitations to come, with regular members, with folks from Bread of Life mission. A friend of mine who came for the first time with her daughter said, “There was peace at this service–I could feel it.” The sense of being part of a believing community strengthened the message of the day.

I close the story of this small town Easter with this photo of the front page of Friday’s newspaper. We laugh sometimes and shake our heads at things that happen in Holbrook that wouldn’t happen in a place more concerned about political correctness, but this year it felt like a perfect part of Easter. He is Risen, friends!

Holbrook's paper is very supportive of religious events, obviously.

Holbrook’s paper is very supportive of religious events, obviously.

Election

 

Last Monday night, Jeff and I were watching a movie when the power went out in our house–the whole house. Yet across the street, the neighbor’s lights were shining. Apparently only our house was affected.power failure

Now this wouldn’t have mattered much except that the next morning, since I’d agreed to  serve on the Election Board, I needed to be at the city election headquarters at 5:30 to help get the polls open at 6 am. And we had no power, so no reliable alarm clock. Could you have gotten a good night’s sleep?

I didn’t. I woke at 2:30 am, tossed and flipped in bed until 3:15, then read until it was time to get up. Finally, I climbed out of bed and began preparations for the day. Candidly, I’ll admit that I don’t mind brushing my teeth with a flashlight when I’m camping, but I didn’t much care for it in the inky dark of our master bathroom. Finally I was ready at 5:25.

Jeff needed the car, so he determined that it was best to drive me to the City Hall. We stepped into the garage to climb in our car and suddenly stopped to look at each other, horrified. Because of our electric door opener, our car was effectively locked in the garage. I wouldn’t get to the polls on time–oh, no!

Jeff thought for a moment, then called the police, who sent an officer over to City Hall, and fortunately, the election workers found a volunteer to come and pick me up as we walked toward my destination. Although I was late for the preliminary preparations, I got there before the polls actually opened. Phew!

All of us voted on Monday

All of us voted on Monday

As I’m sure you know, friends, over this past week, our nation recognized the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the Civil Rights event that happened in Selma, Alabama fifty years ago. Voting rights were at the heart of that march and of the vitriol of those who met it with such cruelty. One side desperately needed the right to vote; the other was determined that they should not acquire it.

Fifty years later, an African American president recounted stories of that event in a moving speech. And fifty years later, this former placard carrying, anti-war, civil rights advocate sat as an election worker and watched my neighbors–black and white, Hispanic and Native American–come into the polls and vote freely and unharmed.

No one was concerned about their safety, everyone chatted and laughed together, then went on about their ordinary business. I wonder if the exciting juxtaposition of our little election and the Selma anniversary even occurred to most of us.

Maybe the biggest achievement is that it didn’t, that we can take that sort of safety more or less for granted today. Not everywhere in the country, of course. Not in Ferguson, perhaps. Not in Madison. Not in many communities still divided by leftover bitterness. But at least here in Holbrook. And that’s something.

To top that off, the power’s back on, too!

 

Attitude and Altitude in Arizona!

Early-Blooming Apricot

Early-Blooming Apricot

Before we moved to Arizona, I knew that weather will change depending on one’s altitude, but coming from the Midwest, I didn’t realize exactly how much it changed. Yesterday, on Jeff’s day off, we drove over to Flagstaff (7000+ feet in altitude) from Holbrook (about 5000) to pick up our tax papers from the accountant there.

In our yard, despite some rain falling, spring peeked out from garden beds and barrels. Not only flowers but garden herbs had begun to emerge.

New Parsley

New Parsley     

Daffodils

Daffodils

 

 

But in Flagstaff, something else was going on. Rain began falling at 3 am and while we were seated in the accountant’s office, we noticed a ‘thickening’ as snow began to fall.

Jeff wanted to visit our neighbors, whose new baby son was hospitalized in Flagstaff with a slowly-improving cold, and another friend, who has been in a care facility there to receive therapy for a stroke. A few hours passed in these endeavors, and then we headed home. Conditions just 90 miles from our home in Holbrook looked like major winter, not spring!

With the base of freezing rain beneath the snow, roads grew more and more slick. Even NAU closed by noon. We passed a pickup in the ditch just outside of Flagstaff. <gulp>

Jeff kept saying, “Just wait til we get down off the mountain. It’ll be fine by Winslow.” Thanks to his driving skills, learned years ago in Northern Michigan, it was, too. And when we got home, sure enough, it was still spring.

Right after we moved to Holbrook three years back, a neighbor said, “We have the nicest climate in Arizona here–four seasons, but none of them too severe.” I think he had a point–we’re blessed to be here, that’s for sure.

Just before Winslow

Just before Winslow

 

Snowy Trees near Walnut Canyon

Snowy Trees near Walnut Canyon

Near Home Depot

Near Home Depot   

Sometimes You Just Can’t Win at Camping

Jeff and I have adopted camping as our favorite hobby to do together–it is inexpensive, plus Arizona and our sister states nearby have wonderful places to visit. Okay, so it’s only February, but according to the weather forecast the temperature in the south of the state would be in the 80’s during the day and the 50’s at night. We set out with optimism for Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It’s a fairly long drive–perhaps six hours. But we had a book on tape and all seemed well.

Organ Pipe is an international biosphere reserve because of its unique desert conditions. It actually receives a reasonable amount of rain, so it is a fairly green desert habitat. The plants are much closer together than is usual for a desert. The mountains in the background provide a lovely contrast.

And that’s pretty much where the good luck stopped. The temperatures were in the sixties daytime and at

The shy cactus hiding behind the bushes in the foreground is an Organ Pipe Cactus

The shy cactus hiding behind the bushes in the foreground is an Organ Pipe Cactus

night–well, the desert can be mighty cold at night, as we can now verify via personal experience. I brought some nice meals to make at the site, but we managed to forget our camp stove. I decided to take some pictures and found I’d left my memory card in the computer at home and had only the miniscule internal memory. Jeff found a map of a potentially lovely 16 mile drive, which turned out to be 36 miles of the nicest scenery and worst roads in Arizona instead. And the next morning, we had a flat tire, compliments of the rough road.

We finally gave up a day early and came home, stopping in Flagstaff on the way home to see “McFarland, USA,” which was a wonderful triumph-of-the-human-spirit type movie.

And we needed to be reminded that the human spirit can triumph about that time! Anyway, here are a few photos we managed to keep on the camera.

 

Beautiful Desert Scene

Beautiful Desert Scene

Saguaro Army

Saguaro Army

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saguaro Cacti against a mountain backdrop

Saguaro Cacti against a mountain backdrop

I Knead You

I admit it! I’m a “crunchy” person. I bake my own bread, make our cereal, can and dehydrate food from our own garden, and generally DIY if I can. In this attitude, I’ve been encouraged lately by an
Australian grandmother named Rhonda Jean, who writes a delightful blog at http://downtoearth.blogspot.com.

Through her, I’ve learned to make my own laundry detergent, glass cleaner, liquid hand soap and a good many other things. Before you start laughing, may I just point out that my laundry detergent contains no harmful chemicals, works as well as yours, and costs less than $2 per gallon? Anyway, Rhonda’s blog is a delight as well as educational. Check it out next time you are feeling crunchy yourself.

On the general topic of crunchiness (?), I thought I’d post some photos of yesterday’s bread making around here. I labor under certain restrictions with my bread. First of all, for Jeff to eat it with enthusiasm, it can be as healthy as I can make it, but it has to look mostly white. I know, I know. Take it up with him.

Next, it has to be…um, squishy. He hates dry bread. In this, I agree with him, so I try to watch the consistency of the dough and length of time I bake it, etc. I rarely make bread the same way twice, but this is what I used yesterday.

My ingredients list for yesterday's baking

My ingredients list for yesterday’s baking

Home-made bread, as you may know, can be made very basic (liquid, yeast, flour, salt+(usually) a sweetening agent) or quite complex. This batch had unbleached white flour with yeast, wheat germ, and salt mixed in with it, a cup of milk, two cups of hot water, some butter, maple syrup, and a cup of oats soaked in warm water for 25 minutes or so. I mixed it up, kneaded it for about 5-6 minutes with the heels of my hands (you don’t want to sink your fingers into a dough ball), and voila!

Dough set for first rising

Dough set for first rising

At this time of the year, the house is a bit cool, so this aluminum bowl gains warmth from a couple of inches of warm water in the second bowl beneath it. This makes the bread rise more efficiently.

After a couple of risings, it goes into the greased bread pans to rise once again. This was a batch of three loaves. We only use two most weeks, so it allows me to give a loaf away. This time, the extra loaf went to my wonderful hairdresser, Elsa.

Bread set to bake after a couple of risings.

Bread set to bake after a couple of risings

I’ve known my oven for three years now, so I know that it bakes bread best at 365 degrees. Some people use 375, some use 350 degrees. Like the flexible ingredients in bread, the temperature isn’t terribly crucial.

Just out of the oven and lightly buttered on top

Just out of the oven and lightly buttered on top

I tip a loaf out of the pan to check the bottom and be sure it is done. If it is, I set the bread on a rack, take my baking brush, and coat the loaves thinly with butter.

I then commit bread-baking heresy by covering the loaves with a clean towel. I understand that for many people, a nice crisp crust is important, but my favorite bread-taster likes a soft crust, so it gets the towel treatment.

And now, it’s ready to eat. There’s just no beating warm home-made bread with fresh butter. I think Rhonda Jean would approve!

Ready to Eat

Ready to Eat and appropriately squishy