What if we wrote a blog post the same way CNN Headline News spins the daily affairs of our world? Here's how it might look at Second Chance Ranch (2CR):
Susun's home. Little Yonni Makes Marksman. Bea Richmond died. Earth Oven Project advances. Sue Kocis checks in. Thanksgiving recap. Black Friday wrapup. Weather stays nice. Susun shows album. Campfire burns bright.
OK, well that about covers it. End of stories. Nah, just kidding. You know me. A morning isn't complete without at least a few hundreds words. So, here we go.
Susun had a truly wonderful time in San Diego. She was able to get her own Inner Grand Kind On. Since Susun is (and will always be) a Kid-At-Heart, she's really in her element when playing with Gage and Van. Her flight arrived precisely on time and Susun merrily bubbled over with stories and giggles about her trip. She was a veritable font of fun all the way home and all the way until sleepy time. Ponce De Leon wandered around Florida looking for the fabled Fountain of Youth. He probably should have simply stayed home with his grand kids. For Susun, those two tykes are the true ticket to youthful joy. There's more spring in her step, more radiance from her smile, more twinkle in her eyes and more shine to her Spirit. Everyone who knows Susun knew she really needed a "Grand Kid Fix" and the results are in. The Grand Kid Fix worked its predictable miracle and Susun is a mile high. Welcome Home, Sweetie!
This past week has been all about pistol practice for Little Yonni. Yesterday was Show Time. The Phoenix Rod & Gun Club conducted their monthly IDPA Classifier Match at the South Mountain range. The Classifier is a standard match by which all IDPA members are sorted out according to skill level. It is the goal of all stalwart IDPA members to be classified at or above the Marksman level. It's no small feat to make the cut for that category. We shot the Bonomo Custom 1911 yesterday--a big ol' classic .45 caliber automatic pistol true to every detail of its 100-year old design. A .45 is the largest caliber that's allowed in pistol competition and it's a real handful. We spent 4 hours involved in the match yesterday and were delighted to learn we made the IDPA Marksman level. We had to shoot the match is less than 195 seconds and our total time was 174.73 seconds. Competitive pistol shooting is definitely an obscure hobby and those 174.73 seconds surely don't sound like much of anything at all. However, to one who dotes on these things, each of those seconds lives much larger in real life than a non-shooter can imagine. We are Happy Campers.
Every Human Being is One-of-A-Kind. Some human's uniqueness stand out like a beacon in the night. Such was Bea Richmond. I don't know how old she was when she died this weekend. She always seemed the same age to me over the last 25-30 years that our paths crossed often. She was the quintessential spinster school marm who just happened to travel the world over and make a meaningful difference is virtually countless ways in her communities-of-interest. Goatherder taught with Bea up in Tuba City and he will doubtless have something to say about her as well. Bea and I shared several common interests and goals but most especially a love and care for the Verde River. We both had a kind of mutual admiration society for each other--each of us always dancing to the beat of our own drummers. Bea was the type of person who's sheer personality could steer almost any situation into a positive purpose. If ever there was someone who could actually justify have the "NO FEAR" sticker on their vehicle, it would have been Bea. Bea was a cross between The Unsinkable Molly Brown, the Energizer Bunny and Elmer Fudd with a hint of Margaret Thatcher thrown in now and then. I last saw Bea the day after we arrived here this season. Our ships passed in the night in the Basha's grocery in Camp Verde. We didn't get a chance to speak to each other. I was talking to Wes when she glided by with all her elderly dignity. I have no doubt that Bea will be calling Saint Peter to task as she makes critical comments about the general upkeep and maintenance of the Pearly Gates. A bit of Heavenly litter here, a bit of peeling paint there and pretty soon, Bea will goad Ol' Saint Pete into to having the place spic, span and spiff once again. Our favorite Ace Report, Steve Ayers, penned a really nice tribute to Bea in today's edition of the Camp Verde Bugle. It's the very first memorial I've ever read where the author takes pride in calling someone a Curmudgeon. (You can click here to read it.) Yea, verily, Bea worn the Curmudgeon badge with pride and elevated this distinction to a level of high honor. She will be missed but also remembered forever as a shining example of The Power of One. Bye, Bye, Bea!
We're finally reaching critical mass on the Earth Oven Project. Yep, we might even have this new toy up and running this week. There's absolutely no doubt the project will be complete by year's end. Our breakthrough took place during one of those "Ah, Ha!" moments in the middle of a nearly sleepless night this week as we lay awake worrying about the upcoming pistol match. While we were in Mesa during the last couple of days we bought two big steel plates. One will be the floor of the oven chamber and the other will be the ceiling (AKA: top) of the heat chamber. This will allow us to construct a very tidy geometric oven chamber and also eliminate the prospect of earth particles falling into our food and costing us 1000's of dollars in dental bills. Things are going to move very quickly on this project henceforth. Earth oven pizza, here we come!
Dear Friend Sue Kocis sent us an email yesterday. She is undergoing a grueling regimen of radiation, shots and 24 hour chemo over the next few weeks. Sue's Spirit is one of those Bright, Shiny Stars we look up to in the Sky of Life. Sue has had such a huge and giant impact on our lives since we met in January 2002. It's impossible to imagine how our lives would have turned out if we hadn't met Sue. Sue is doing really well in her treatments. Her positive attitude is relentless. She and her beloved dog, Mira, walked six miles in under two hours yesterday. We are so proud of her. Please join us in beaming special rays of golden light and healing harmony to our Dear Friend Sue. You are AWESOME, Sue!
Thanksgiving Day was another vintage session steeped in the time-honored rituals of the turkey tradition. We visited with our neighbors, the huge Despain Family and many of their lifelong Friends. Even though Patriarch Dean is gone, the Despains carried on in the style to which they have become accustomed. They didn't miss a beat. I was welcomed there as always with many open arms, happy faces and radiant smiles. One of Dean's daughters told me she cried when she read my tribute to her Dad. In a happy-sad sort of way, her admission warmed my heart. It made me feel like a real part of their Family. I asked several people if they heard the table groaning under the weight of all that food but they didn't have a clue what I was talking about. Apparently, the expression is a Midwestern colloquialism which never penetrated the wilds of Arizona.
After a brief visit with the Despains, we traveled 30 minutes over to The Babe Daley Place in Fort Lincoln. We were welcomed there also as part of their Family. It turned out to be the Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover painting we envisioned it to be. Babe and her lovely daughters, Paula and Jodi, knocked themselves silly preparing a classic cornucopia of scrumptious fare. THANK YOU, Babe, and THANKS for the warm love and welcome of Your Family on this Thanksgiving. We give Thanks for YOU!
Black Friday turned out to be a historical episode for The Deal Dude. He visited seven Big Box retailers and bought nary a single item of any kind. Yep, you read that right. He didn't spend a danged dime or even a pretty penny one one speck of stuff. He amazed himself by this feat of frugality. There wasn't one single gee-gaw that attracted his attention. Amazing but true. Susun' niece Arlyn was actually on the front lines of the Black Friday firefight. She told an eye-opening tale of trying to get into the American Eagle store in Scottsdale before her shift began at midnight. There were hundreds of people crowding the doors and they would let here up to the door. She said she worked there and they scoffed and said, "Yeah, right." Finally she got a security guard and the burly Bubba drove a wedge through the crowd to get Arlyn to work on time. When they opened the door, one woman wedged herself into the opening and wouldn't let go. It took the combined force of the guard and another person to shove her back out of the door so it could be locked again. Meanwhile, shoppers stormed the store at the stroke of midnight and poor Arlyn was one of only two cashiers on hand to deal with the human tsunami. She said the line had to be at least 200 people lone. And, get this, she and her cashier partner rang up $33,000 worth of gee-gaws in the first 60 minutes. Folks, that's $550 a minute! Up in Flagstaff, we read that 1,100 people surged into the Best Buy there within the first 20 minutes. Nationwide Black Friday sales jumped nearly seven percent over last year and supposedly set some sort of record. All of which prompts me to wonder: What recession?
Our weather is Blue Bird Beautiful. Nary a cloud. Not a breath of wind. If weather could be a jewel, this is what it would look and feel like to see and wear it. And, get this, the weather up in Idaho Falls has resembled science fiction. Thanksgiving Day it reached 53 degrees and was 55 the day before Thanksgiving. That's unheard of in The Annals of Eastern Idaho.
Miss Susun loves to fondle fotos. She had to wait in the San Diego airport three hours for her flight yesterday. Was she bored? Are you kidding? No, she was delighted to have to time to put her photo album together. She is SO proud of her photo albums. It is a Point-of-Pride with her to have all her photos processed and tidily arranged into an artful album BEFORE she arrives back in Ol' Airy Zonie. We had to hustle to get back home to 2CR before sunset. We barely made it with enough time to chop wood and get a campfire going before the sun sunk once again below the distant Verde Fault scarp. Sure enough, as soon as the campfire was burning brightly once again and Happy Hour was underway, Susun chirps, "Wanna see my album?" Well, YEAH, Girl, bring it ON! Naturally, it's a darling repertoire of smiling kiddies, a smiley Grand Ma and two happy and spirited daughters having the time of their lives together once again. Thanks, Susun, for elevating your collections of snapshots to an artform. This one is one of your best yet.
Below are some of the photos of the past few days. We are putting captions on them right now as we've overstayed our welcome here at the keyboard and it's time to pull back from this glowing terminal and wake up and smell the coffee.
Have a great day and Many Cheers, jp