Sunday, November 30, 2014

Where in the world is RJF?

You are a lost soul wondering through a world that can be all yours if you truly wanted it to be.   But for some reason you have chosen a road that I cannot fathom could be that great to travel.  To me, it seems like that road has had more bumps and troughs than highs and peaks.  Of course highs is probably the wrong word because I'm pretty sure it has had plenty of highs.

You are my brother, not so much by blood, but by a promise I made to you over twenty years ago.  That vow was that I would never step away and I would always be there.  Obviously I can't be right where you are, but I've always been here for calls, texts, emails, and letters.  I've always been right here.  All you have to do is step up and say help.

I am not sure if you realize that anyone that's been in your life in a positive way would do the same as I would.  And some of them have in so many ways.  But you always slide back.  But honestly, none of our help is going to change who you are unless you want to change yourself.

For those of us that have been with you from the beginning of this rocky adventure, we have watched with great hope that you are taking the right path.  You were going to change.  And for awhile you are the person we used to know.  That caring, funny, and sincere friend we all went to school with.  And then something happens.  A little switch?  Walking into the wrong room with the wrong people?  Something happens and you run back down that dirty road.

I was there when you found the Lord Jesus Christ.  Of course I'm probably one of the only person that knows really why you found the Lord Jesus Christ, but I will keep that part a secret.  That was during high school when the rocky road started to get paved.  Of those that were standing on the side of the road thought that possibly this would be a change in the right direction for you.  And for a while it was.  Off to college you went...to a 'church' college at that...but one night something happened and the world came screaming back to the dirty road.

When I could I would come see you and we would talk about the good life.  When times slid to the downside, I would write or try to make a connection with you.  And then you would eventually disappear for a while.  Where you would go not many of us know.  All I know is that you would go back down that drug induced hole and hide out for a while.  And then something scary would happen to you and you would come crawling back to friends and family.  And they would welcome you back with open arms because this was going to be the time you could become the person we know.

Of course that would only last for a short time before you would start those addictive tendencies and disappear on us again.  You recently came back in full force and we all thought once again that you were back for good.  You were going to be with us, become our friends again, laugh with us, cry with us, celebrate our birthdays, new babies, and everything else in the real world.  You gave us photos from the old days and made us laugh.

And then again....gone.  

I do not think you realize how many people care about you.  Over these last months of your disappearance, I've received text and facebook messages asking me where you were.  And all I could say is "I unfortunately have no idea".  And that hurts.  You don't know how much it hurts to not know where a brother and a friend is?

And I am so scared that one day I'm going to have to tell our world...you are GONE forever.

When you find the time, please make contact with us.  We love you RJF.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

I survived the River


I had been on rivers before.  I've done some daily trips down the Colorado River out of Moab.  My first overnight trip was in Costa Rica.  We rafted down and stayed at a lodge with running water and flush toilets.  I told Murray he had ruined me for ever using the groover (explained later if you don't know what it is).  My second trip was down the Colorado through Cataract Canyon from Moab to Lake Powell.  It was a two night three day trip and I used the groover just fine.  And my last river trip before this one was 6 days, 5 nights.  On that one I came close to ringing someone's neck.  So considering I was going to embark on a 21 day trip with 12 people I did not know, I was a little nervous.  

My nervousness had to do with not only the 12 people I did not know, but being a Hilton girl, I was not sure if I would survive the camping for 21 days.  Twenty-one days without a proper toilet, shower, bath, or bed was going to be the test of my wills.  But once we pushed off from Lee's Ferry there would be no turning back.  And so we pushed off.

Prior to going on the trip, someone had told me to lose all my inhibitions during the trip.  And so I went on this trip with that in my mind.  I was going to have to get naked in front of people, crap in a can sometimes in front of people, and bath along a river where other people not on my trip were going to be floating by.  That advice was the best I had received for the trip.  I lost inhibitions for sure.

Was the trip lift altering?  Oh hell yea!  I keep saying I don't ever have to camp again.  :)  I told Murray I would never have to do another trip down the canyon again, but give me a while and I will probably say hell yes.  I was 21 days without technology and it was awesome.  

This was a private trip so we cooked, cleaned, packed/unpacked, set up, etc. by ourselves.  There were five rafts with tons of gear from cooking to tents to chairs to cots.  Every thing went in the same place every time we packed and believe me we packed a ton.  And then unpacked.  There were four cook/clean groups, two people who handled the groover, and one person who handled the food.  We had hired a company to shop and plan our meals, but we cooked those meals and kind of went shopping in the coolers and storage containers.  So the four groups were A, B, C, D.  The first day Group A cooked dinner, breakfast, and lunch.  Group B cleaned up dinner and breakfast.  Then Group B would do dinner, breakfast, and lunch.  And so on.  It worked really well.  Every couple of days, I would have a couple days off.  Murray was in Group C so we would also have a day off of chores together.  

Our days were pretty much the same every day.  Get up, pack up, eat breakfast, load the boats, raft down the river, hike some, get to camp, unload, eat dinner, go to sleep.  Again and again and again.  We had three days where we laid over at a particular camp for a second night.  The packing and unpacking is what really tended to wear on me.  

During the day on the river, we might stop to hike or check out some rock art.  Usually there were a couple of stops if there were big rapids for the boatpeople (boatmen) to scout the rapid to see what was the safest way to go.  But again, it was the same, but different every day.  

I was the only one to get somewhat sick during the trip.  The tamales that we ate that night did not agree with my inners and starting at 2am starting removing themselves from my body.  And it continued into the next day.  This is where losing all inhibitions comes to full tilt.  We were heading down the river, when I realized I was going to have to use the day groover.  So let me explain the day groover....you take this box and head into the bushes, that is if you have bushes to head to.  I did not.  You open the box, take out a brown paper lunch bag and open it completely up, then make a nest with some toilet paper, crap, fold up the corners, and place that inside another brown bag.  So where we pulled over, I had to scramble up the rocks and was in full view of everyone.  That day it wasn't just us on that particular section of the river, but also a commercial group.  And so I got to squat right in front of them.  After stopping at the Doll House and going through the rapid there, I was pretty sure I was going to puke in front of the commercial group as well.  But no need to worry because the next day while I was bathing in the mucky muddy water, they floated by again.  

I believe it was a couple of days later when I would get my first (and last) chance to row the boat.  You would think that having a husband who is all about rafting that I would have put my hands on the oars before this moment, but nope.  I have paddled an inflatable kayak before, but never a raft.  The day before when I was riding on another boat, the boatperson said well you should know a few strokes in case your boatman goes out of the boat.  Unfortunately, it wasn't a good day for her to teach me those few strokes.  But fear not, I got my chance the next day and remarkably kept the raft upright and off the wall.  We scouted Crystal and were the fourth boat to go through I believe.  We entered the rapid and as the big wave was coming, Murray yelled "HOLD ON" so I did.  We, well I guess now I, went through it and I caught something out of the corner of my eye.  When I looked over I saw Murray floating by.  I did not hesitate and immediately jumped on the oars.  Not because I knew what the fuck to do, but I thought it was the right thing to do.  And somehow I pulled or pushed and struggled through keeping the raft upright and off the wall.  A kayaker finally came, climbed aboard, and stroked three times to an eddy.  

There were many highlights of the trip but I think the photos will describe those the best.  I can't explain the river or what it did to me.  I survived it and loved it and hated it and embraced it and cursed it.  But it was all worth it.  One day you might get your chance and if you do, I suggest you take it, but most importantly lose all your inhibitions.  

I said I would explain the groover for those of you that don't know it....the reason it has the name groover is before the toilet seat went on it, you would just sit on the boat and get grooves on your legs.  But today things are more sophisticated.  First there is a bucket to pee in, and then the box to crap in, and then the hand washing station.  And 99% of the time the groover has an awesome view.  

The groover  
                                      The groover view                                         



Friday, February 07, 2014

I'm going to tell you a story....

For some of you, this will be a shock.  Some of you will respond with "I had no idea about your mom".  Some of you will truly question my non-belief in the Lord, Jesus Christ.   And for some chills will run up your spine and tingle your toes.  And some won't give a damn, but I don't care because it is my story.  So there are three parts of the story...the beginning, the middle, and the foreverness.

Are you aware that when I was three years old my mother died of complications due to a hysterectomy?  No?  Doesn't surprise me actually because I know a lot of my high school now facebook friends had no idea.  Yes, a sad event.  I was only three but I have memories of my mom. And I know my dad and my siblings and my surrogate mothers and society did a pretty damn good job raising me.

From the earliest time that I can remember, three years old I guess, when I was laying down to go to sleep and the lights had been turned off, I would hear footsteps outside my room.  They were pacing back and forth.  When I was old enough to remember, those footsteps scared the shit out of me.  When I was in junior high and they would pace the hall at the condo, I came to accept it as my imagination.  When I was 24, I still heard those footsteps.  Years later, I would realize what those footsteps were.

Flash forward to college.  I went to NAU.  The first couple of years I had roommates that I went to high school with, but as I grew sick of them, I put a notice on the bulletin board and got a great one.  Her name was Jennifer and she was studying some theater crap or something like that.  (Jen-do you even use your degree because I know I don't).  We were roommates, hung out occasionally, but mostly were roommates.  I met her mom once or twice.  Today, Jennifer, her mom, and I are still friends and pretty damn close ones if I had to say.  We both moved to Phoenix after college, ended up in the same apartment complex (Lynwood Place), started hanging out more and developing our friendship to what it is today.  Jen's mom, Dani...she became one of those surrogate moms, but it wasn't until 1997.

Flash forward to 1997.  Many of you on facebook from LHC's graduating class of 1992, will remember the year.   Matter of fact, I used the same phone at work to receive the news of that tragedy and my enlightenment.   But 1997 wasn't just shadowed with the death of a family friend, Nikki, it was darkened by at least 6 other people who died within my large grasping circle.  Only one other year has been as tragic and that was 2007.  Kind of scary that those years are 10 years apart.  I'm a little nervous what 2017 has in store for me.  Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked, but it is all part of the story.

I am working for a private investigation firm when the administrative assistance (secretary is what we called her) told me I had a telephone call.  I was in the boss's office at the time and I stepped into the hall to take it.  The caller was Dani.  She said "Jen gave me your number and I hope you don't mind me calling at work".  Again, Dani and I were only acquainted because of Jen.  ACQUAINTED.  Not acquaintances, but acquainted.

I probably said something like "um, ok" thinking in my head if Jen isn't dead what the fuck do you want.  So Dani continues "I have something to tell you.  Are you open minded?"  In head-well if I'm not are you not going to tell me?  I said SURE.  And then she started to speak and by the end chills were running up my spine and tingling my toes.  And Dani and I are no longer acquainted, but we are the greatest of friends and she is one of my surrogate moms.

This is where some of you will get skeptical.  Some of you will relate.  Some of you will once again wonder how I do NOT believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ.  And some of you will think what you have always thought about me...I'm screwed in the head.  And you know what...this is my story so I don't give a shit what you think honestly.

So Dani continues....I was waiting for Jen to finish her eye surgery (lasik) and I was walking through this strip mall when I noticed a psychic.  Now I usually go to one once a year and usually the same one. But I saw this one and felt the need to go in.

Now let me sidestep here and say I've never been a believer in psychics.  But I do believe there are mediums and after reading the book The Eagle and the Rose by Rosemary Altea, I believe in them even more.

And Dani continues....so I was inquiring about a career change when the lady stops mid-sentence and says "Do you know someone named Sara" (again, remember Dani and I are acquaintances at this point).  Dani answers "yes".  The psychic then continues "and her mom died when she was real young?"  Dani answers "yes".

Now I don't know what Dani was thinking right then, but as she was telling me the hairs on the back of my neck were standing straight up.

The psychic continues...I have a message from Sara's mom for you to give to Sara.  (And yes I shit my pants at this point.  Ok not really, but mentally).  "When Sara can't grasp the feeling she is having or what's going on around her, that is just the presence of her mom.  And Sara should always know her mom is there with her".  Most likely I was speechless at this time.  I probably mumbled a thank you and hung up the phone.

As I laid down to sleep that night, I strained to hear those footsteps walking the hallway.  I have never heard those footsteps again, but I know that my mom is sitting right next to me as I type my story.


 My Mom

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hometown Visit


I received the call on Monday and by Saturday evening I back in the hometown.  I have found that the only time I go back usually is for memorial services.  And so this trip was no different.  Family of family flew in from Hawaii and Ohio.  And although it was for a tragedy, sightseeing was still in order. I mean why fly to London when you can some see the London Bridge in Arizona with its own English Channel.  

The town has changed though.  I know a lot of friends have moved back to raise their kids there, but its not the same place as when we were growing up.  I mean when we were growing up, it was 30,000 when I left at 18.  Today, friends tell me its 60k.  What I never realized as a child, but absolutely realized it this trip was that town is at the bottom of the slope and all the houses are at the top.  So I guess in one sense that is nice that there isn't a starbucks on every corner, but then again I was getting aggravated driving down the hill every morning to find something to take the edge off.  

And although the town has changed, there are still things that bring back that home feeling.  Like Ed's Deli of course.  I've yet to find another place like it and sorry Vegas folks, Cappriotti's doesn't even come close.   It could be that they get their bread from someplace special.  The other place that is a hometown favorite of mine is Taco Hacienda.  Again, I've yet to find a cheese crisp as greasy and delicious as TH's.  The place I miss the most is Havasu Frozen Yogurt.  There have been some that have come close, but never have the right cookie crumbs.  The place on the corner by Smith's was darn good with carob chips though.  

Usually when I am in town, I try to get around to see friends, but this time really didn't allow such a thing.  I through out an invite to a chosen few to meet at DM and several of them arrived on short notice.  

What I've taken away from this last visit is life.  And to live that life to the fullest.  Don't hesitate to tell people in your life that you love them.  And I'm not talking about your family.  I'm talking about your friends that you've been around since Bumble Bee, the ones you talk to regularly, see on a weekly basis, talk to monthly, etc.  Don't let those moments slip by you because when shit hits the fan you are going to be saying...shoulda, woulda, coulda....and now its too late.  And I've taken this lesson as well...if I was to die today, what would happen?  Are my affairs in order so that my spouse could handle everything from the funeral (which I'm not having one except you are to party like rockstars) to the finances.  If you can answer that question with confidence that everything is in order, you are one step ahead of the game.  If you can't...get a will, life insurance, and prepare for the unexpected.  Because folks tomorrow may never get here for us.  

Love to all who reads this....

Sunday, February 24, 2013

To Tithe or Not

I've never been religious.  I mean I have tried to find this so called Jesus person.  I've attended church and churches.  I was born Catholic, but I went to a few others to see if I could find something.  In 2000, I was turned onto Tao and Buddhism and I found something in nature.  That is where my peace has always come from.  When I'm out hiking through unknown canyons, that's where I feel the most at ease.  I like to call that my religion.  The bonus of this religion is that I don't have to tithe all that often.  Sometimes where I hike there is a fee so I consider that a tithing, but for the most part, I don't have to lay down more than gas to get to the location.

I was recently approached by an individual who asked for me to help out with....um, how do I put this...a church?  Primarily to support him while he works towards creating a church for an already established congregation.  I don't understand that part since why recreate another church right down the block when there is already one there.  I had questions about this and so we talked over chat.  I got to ask all my questions.  I told him I would pray about it.  He knows damn well that isn't going to happen.

The main question that I have that he wouldn't be able to answer is "what am I getting out of this agreement?"  When one goes to church and tithes then he is getting the pastor or priest up there preaching to them.  And he is getting the building that he worships in and blah blah blah.  But if I decide to tithe to this cause, what exactly benefits me?  I don't attend that church, I don't believe in God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, and I balk at religion and religious figures all the time.  So why would I go through with this?

I've asked myself that about a million times since being approached with this concept.

Around 1993, I met this individual for the second time.  I say the second time because we went to school together for sometime, but I never really knew him.  We were introduced by another religious friend.  Honestly I think she introduced us in the hopes that he would convert me into accepting the Lord Jesus Christ.  I remember those weeks I spent with him prior to his leaving for Croatia.  I remember them like it was last week.  I remember writing to him and sending him care packages while he was over there.  I still have his letters.  I remember his phone call to me on his way back to the states.  He used his last monies to call me.  Why, I often ponder, why?  This individual and I never were romantically involved.  We were just friends.

And although I've balked at religion a zillion times where he prays to the Lord Jesus Christ every day, he has stuck by me through it all.  When I ask a religious question, he answers with a challenge.  When I ask why God would allow children to be raped, murdered, and abused, he answers with a bible verse.  And I read it to humor myself or may be humor him.  But sometimes those verses do answer the question.  But still I am no closer to finding the Lord Jesus Christ.  And I think in some sense he's come to accept that as much as I've come to accept he is all about the Lord Jesus Christ.

He's not a pusher though.  He does not push his religion on me.  In his own way, he tries to get me to find the Lord Jesus Christ, but never pushes it like some other religious zealots.  I often have called him my guru because I go to him for every religious question I have.

And so in reality I guess I have found what I am going to get out of this if I go to the site and plug in my money donation.  I'm going to get a godly friend who will guide me through my hardest times, laugh with me over the stupidest things, and pray for me even though I don't believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  +Steve Stutler

Friday, November 02, 2012

It's Movember...it's what?

Lately it seems that every month I'm getting hit up for some donation....breast cancer, relay for life, girl scout cookies, susan g. run, etc.  And November is no different.  But that's ok as it is always for a good cause in my book.  So November is MOVEMBER month.  And you ask what exactly is that?  Well, straight from  their website, here it is....

During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo's, these men raise vital awareness and funds for men's health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives.
Mo Bros effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November. Through their actions and words they raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.

At the end of the month, Mo Bros and Mo Sistas celebrate their gallantry and valor by either throwing their own Movember party or attending one of the infamous Gala Part├ęs held around the world by Movember, for Movember.

The Movember Effect: Awareness & Education, Survivorship, Research
The funds raised in the US support prostate cancer and testicular cancer initiatives. The funds raised are directed to programs run directly by Movember and our men’s health partners, the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG Foundation. Together, the three channels work together to ensure that Movember funds are supporting a broad range of innovative, world-class programs in line with our
strategic goals in the areas of awareness and education, survivorship and research.

So this year, I've had the opportunity to see at least three guys I know or know of that have taken on the cause. 


Marc Montini-Marc's motivation: I was diagnosed with testicular cancer on Oct 11, 2011. Two surgeries and 12 weeks of Chemo later, I am cancer free.


Michael Babbitt-Mike's motivation: Prostate Cancer took my Father's life and I don't want my newborn son to have to ever have to worry about this F*$k#d up disease. Lets have some fun, grow a stache and raise awareness. Everyone knows about the save the boobies campaign and wearing pink. Now its time to give the boys their due. Save the Huevos. In Memory Of David B. Babbitt


Scott Scherbinski-Scott's motivation: to become involved and raise awareness.  NOTE:  This is the first time in 13 years that Scott has shaved his beard.   

As Michael said, 'everyone knows about SAVE the BOOBIES campaign and wearing pink.  Now its time to give the boys their due.  I'm not sure exactly what BOYS he's talking about, but nonetheless, it's a great cause. 

Over the years, I have donated to a lot of causes.  And I have donated to a lot of people who I had no idea who they were, but a friend asked for help with donations so I donated.  Primarily, that is what I am asking you.  Give up starbucks for a week, for some of you that's $50 right there.  And donate to one or all three of these individuals.  

Thanks.   

Friday, October 19, 2012

Another food blog post

There are so many food blogs out there such as Skinny Baker Chick (that's what I call her) and that is where I get a lot of my recipes like the stuffed pumpkin from last year.  And I'm going to make that in the next week as well.  But that isn't the point.  People are always saying I have the best recipes, but I hate to break it to you folks, I steal most of those recipes.  I get them from Skinny Baker Chick, Allrecipes.com, Sunset magazine, and a host of other sites.  If I have something I want to cook-lets say beef ribs-then I just Google (because how else do we get information these days) beef ribs and start looking at recipes.  Or I send Chef Larry a personal message and get the low down.  It pays to have people in the food business.

I work in the middle of nowhere as most people tell me on a daily basis.  At anyone given time, there are 4-10 people living in our little park community.  And I love to cook, but cooking for one is so difficult so I often invite the neighbors over for meals.  Usually I use them as guinea pigs to some meal I am trying.  Last night was no different.  My husband always suggests I try the recipes on him before inviting the entire housing community over to try the food I'm about to attempt to make.  That was definitely the crepe incident at PINN, but they eventually turned out alright....right gang?

Anyway, we have a cookbook called Southwest Slow Cooking we sell in our visitor center.  The photos alone make you want to purchase the book.



On a daily basis, given we have 5 visitors, at least 5 people will pick up the book and look through it.  I used to tell visitors that if they purchased the book they were required to bring back a meal they prepared out of it for taste testing.  Then I picked it up, looked through it, and bought the book.  Shortly thereafter, I went out and bought a slow cooker.  And I've been testing the recipes in the book.  Last night was Flautas De Pollo (photo above) and after posting the above photo on FB, someone wanted the recipe so I'm now sharing it.

Now you are probably wondering how those were made in a slow cooker.  Well in reality, only the chicken and vegetables portion was in the slow cooker and then I prepared the flautas and put them in the oven.

You'll need if you can find the following items:
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 white onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3-4 boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
24 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 block ranchero cheese, crumbled (I couldn't find this so I went with pepper jack)
Nonstick cooking spray
Corn oil (I used vegetable oil as that's what I had)

Place the jalapeno, onion, garlic, and chicken in the slow cooker.  Stir in the oregano, black pepper, and chili powder.  Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.  (I went with about 5.5 hours).

Turn oven to broil.  Spray a baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Remove the chicken and vegetables from the slow cooker.  Shred the chicken with a fork and mix in with the cooked vegetables.  To each tortilla, add 1/2 tablespoon of the chicken mixture (I didn't measure) and a 1/4 tablespoon of the cheese, and then roll tightly.  I interrupt here for a very helpful hint: To keep your tortillas from splitting when rolled is to place 3-4 in an unsealed plastic bag and microwave for 30 seconds.  Put a toothpick through the center of each tortilla to hold it closed and place on the baking pan.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas and mixture.  When finished, brush each tortilla with a little corn oil and place the pan in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes.  Remove when the tortillas are golden brown on top.

I served them up with some corn bread (I made that in the slow cooker the night before), black beans, sour cream, and salsa.  Although mine didn't come out looking like the photo above, I have no doubt they tasted the same.