In April of this year, Rich and I travelled to Las Vegas and Sedona. We spent 3 days in Las Vegas after a frustratingly long and delayed trip. We should have arrived in our hotel by 7pm on Tuesday but didn’t get there until 2am. At first I was somewhat annoyed that we had “lost” Tuesday evening and then Wednesday morning due to catching up on sleep. In the long run I am glad (God always knows best!).
Las Vegas is, in my opinion, a sorry, sad, jaded place. I could have gotten drunk on fumes alone as we walked the streets!!!! So much alcohol, so many drunks and people out of control, so much smoking – ugh!! All the casinos allow smoking, not even one small smoke free area that we could find!. Not that we’re gamblers, but if you go to Vegas you have to put down at least one bet right? And to get anywhere in any of the hotels you HAD to go through the casino. Not going back, not recommending it to anyone. We did see The Lion King which was wonderful, but then you can see a good show almost anywhere, and we did visit the incredible botanical show at the Bellagio which is stunning (they change it for each season) and I am grateful for these two lovely moments.
The drive from Vegas to Sedona was easy and uneventful – if you can call a stop at Hoover Dam uneventful!!
What an amazing piece of human work. Some of the landscape along the way was very bleak and unforgiving. I tried to imagine what it was like for the first pioneers in this part of the country. We also passed through some of the flat "pampas" type country of Arizona and I could imagine the cowboys herding thousands of steers across them. Then, of course, as we continued the drive we elevated to over 7,000 feet and we encountered sleet and followed by snow flurries!
By the time we approached Sedona, however, the sky was clear and the view was spectacular!! The red rock formations and canyons are something out of this world and they are all around this lovey city. What an amazing piece of God’s creation. Our condo was delightful, almost luxurious, and we were very happy and comfortable during our stay. However, nothing prepared us for our wake up the first morning: a silent winter wonderland with about 5” of snow – and it continued to snow for the rest of the day! It’s a good job we had decided to take it easy that day and we just explored the town center. By the following day the snow had stopped and all but melted away, and the rest of our stay was filled with clear skies and sunshine with fairly warm temperatures.
The rock formations surrounding the town all had very specific names that alluded to their shape. The most important were Cathedral Rock, Snoopy Rock, Camel Rock, Coffee Pot Rock, Praying Hands Rock, Two Sisters Rock, and Bell Rock. This last one was my personal favorite and, because it was the site of one of the many energy vortexes in and around Sedona, we actually climbed a little over half way up it. We also visited the old tin-mining town of Jerome where we explored an amazing kaleidoscope shop and found the most glorious, decadent fudge imaginable!
There were two more notable events during our stay in Sedona: Rich took a helicopter ride around the the town and the surrounding area, and while he did that I received a massage from an intuitive massage therapist who gave me some incredible feedback, including the phrase “you are being called to more” (remember my posting Spiritual Growth- Being Called To More?). I will make that story a separate posting. And then we spent a day at the Grand Canyon. What can I say about that? So much, that again I will make that a separate posting.
Here are a few photos from Sedona.
I feel like a Mamma Bear in the middle of the great hibernation. I have no desire to stir out of my warm cave. I have no desire to get up, go out, do anything at all. I just want to stay curled up where it’s nice and warm and be cozy.
Much of the country may be under snow right now. Thank God Florida isn’t. But that still doesn’t change the fact that it is freezing cold – by Floridian standards. We have had heavier frost the last two nights than we have had all winter. I almost can’t believe I’m referring to winter, freezing temperatures, and Florida all in the same paragraph. But for whatever reason, we are experiencing a true winter season in the sunny south this year.
I could make it all about me and say that perhaps I need yet another lesson in gratitude; gratitude that we don’t get this kind of weather every year. Or perhaps I needed to learn once again not to take things for granted. Humility would be attached to that one. But, because it’s NOT all about me, I guess we’re just having an abnormally cold winter.
The reason this is such a big deal for me is because it affects my whole temperament. I plain don’t like the cold. It makes me grumpy and keeps me locked inside. Not that I don’t go out; I get my errands done and meet all my commitments. There’s just no joy to it, and if I can stay home, I do.
It’s most definitely put a crimp in my outdoors style. Haven’t been able to get outside to do much gardening, and the bad weather has affected the garden big time this year. On those odd few days that it has been warm enough to get out there, I have hacked away a lot of frost-burned plants and trees. Damage control has been the main name of the game.
The other major area that has been impacted is my writing. I really don’t like to sit in front of the computer for any length of time indoors. Even if it is cold outside that somehow doesn’t make it enjoyable to be writing indoors. So I have done very little writing and that is an irritation in and of itself. And what has frustrated me even more is that some days the sun has been shining, the sky is blue, and it has all the makings of a “come hither” look outside, but the thermometer has hovered in the low fifties:-(.
But this morning, four of my readings really got into my heart. Two were on the topic of “now"/the present moment”, and two were about “commitment” – my commitment to life and God, and God’s commitment to me. One of the “now” readings was headed by a quotation from Buddha:
”There is only one time when it is essential to awaken. That time is now.”
Only Buddha could have said that! The short reflections following the quotation said: “Even with our eyes open, we sometimes go through our days as if we were sleepwalking. these are the only days we have; we need to be aware of them.” (From the Daily Book Of Positive Quotations by Linda Picone.)
Both the quotation and the reflection really tugged at my heart, and I realized that even though it is good to have “down days”, days when I am not busy doing, it is probably not good to have too many of them in row. And that is what I have been doing in my great hibernation. I have enjoyed some great books, I have caught up on some Tivo, but I have also been “sleepwalking” through a lot of my days.
I have done a little writing but it’s been my “other writing”, the stuff I hope to turn into a book. But I have been thinking that there is no reason that I shouldn’t share some of that here in this forum. Each short chapter is a self-contained story unto itself and can stand alone. So keep your eyes open for articles under a new topic: Oases. See you on the pages!!
The thermometer that is incorporated into the clock located on the wall in my lanai has not registered higher than 44 degrees Fahrenheit at about 7.30am for the past week. This morning it indicated 34 degrees Fahrenheit at 8.35am. It has not climbed above 58 degrees Fahrenheit in the past seven days at any time of the day!
The corner of the lanai where the clock is located is the most sheltered and the warmest spot in my garden. It is protected from wind chill and receives sun for the better part of the day. Now that the lanai has been built it is even more protected from the elements. And it is “bloody cold out there” as my true Brit self would say. And I know that it is even colder out in the open, more exposed garden.
I am not a happy camper. I feel like a prisoner to the cold. Today especially the sun was shining and it looked glorious outside. The sky was blue and everything was in clear and sharp focus – including the frost that sparkled like diamonds on the house immediately across the street from mine!!
I have waited patiently for the number to go higher. I have waited patiently not to feel the immediate chill when I slide open the lanai door. It feels just like standing in front of an open freezer door. I have waited patiently to be able to go out to my sanctuary, lap top in hand, to invite the Muse out to play.
I can wait no longer. So I have dragged a small table over and placed it right in front of the sliding door that looks into my lanai and I have set up the lap top so that I can at least see out into the garden via the lanai. It’s not quite the same; the fresh air, the usual Florida warmth, and the songs of the birds are missing. I don’t feel the usual joy in my heart, but it’s better than succumbing any longer to this sense of total imprisonment.
It’s not that I cannot or have not been outside the house this week. I am not a wimp and I do carry some memory in my bones of dealing with a cold English winter. In fact a few days ago I received an email from an old school chum who reminded me of the previous “worst English winter” that we all experienced as students returning to our various colleges and universities in January 1963.
The college that I attended, Coloma Teacher Training College, was set in a very rural area (read “out in the sticks”, or perhaps here in America you say “out in the boon docks”), south of London. It was located a couple of miles outside a very small village called West Wycombe. We were so isolated that the local villagers thought we were a college full of unwed mothers or mentally handicapped women. Being typical college students, we made sure our behaviour did nothing to change their minds. Many was the evening that, bolstered by a drink or two and with pillows stuffed under our coats, we would carousel through the village singing slightly “naughty” songs.
Other evenings would find us trudging down to the village store with the hoods of our duffel coats up over our heads. Like most female (and male) students in those days we all had long long hair and we would comb it forward over our faces. We limped along, one foot in the gutter, the other on the curb, muttering indecipherable words and stopping suddenly to peer through our hair at people we passed. We thought we were being very risque’ and very avant garde. (It was cool to think in French phrases in those days.)
But that winter was quite spectacular. I remember returning after the Christmas holidays, getting off the bus (I lived outside the college with a college-picked family), walking through the village and thinking how picturesque it all seemed with the flurries of snow swirling all around me. I walked out the other end of the village and turned the corner to cross the recreation fields that separated the village from the college.
I clearly remember stopping in my tracks, jaw dropped, and not sure quite what to think. It suddenly seemed as though I was at the North Pole as a vast expanse of pure white opened up in front of me. The falling snow was thick enough that I couldn’t see to the other side of the field. There was not another soul in sight.
I stood there for a few moments just taking in the whole God-beauty of the scene. I was well dressed for the weather and had on a pair of knee high boots. When I took my first step out into the field I sank into soft snow so deep it came over, and into, the top of my boots. I think I took maybe three or four more steps before I realized this was not a very wise thing to do, and jumped back quickly onto the pavement, all the time aware of the icy cold that was surrounding my feet.
I tramped back a hundred yards to a small cafe and sat down to empty out the snow from my boots. My feet were soaking and freezing cold. I looked up at the woman who owned the cafe and to whom we had been very risque and avant garde on several occasions. I guess she overlooked my past transgressions and took pity on me because she handed me a dry tea towel.
These were not the days of cell phones. She allowed me to use the telephone in the cafe to call the college, and I found out that they had not been able to telephone all the out-students in time to warn them not to attempt to come into college. Grimly I made my way home with very cold feet.
The snow lasted well into March that year. We were all sick and tired of it by the time the last little mounds had disappeared from the sides of the road. I spoke to my sister in London two days ago and she too remembered that winter. She confirmed that the snow at the moment is very reminiscent of back then. Let’s hope for their sake that it doesn’t last so long.
Well, I have beaten the cold and done my writing. The Muse was fairly happy at playing indoors because she could at least see the outdoors. But I will be much happier when the temperatures rise a little and I don’t feel so hunched up in my body and my soul. Warmth has a liberating effect in both areas.