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 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, 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'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.  


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,, 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.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Small Town Loss

I grew up in what I consider a small town.  Well, at least it was when I was growing up.  I moved from a midwest state into a small, but growing town.  I moved there in 1974 when I was one and the town did not become incorporated until 1978.   We can battle back and forth, but the population at that time was between 5000 and 15,000.  Yep a big difference, but all in all it was small. 

The community technically started as a Army Air Corps rest camp during WWII, but the real start in my eyes was when Mr. McCulloch brought over his manufacturing plant and began to start the growing town.  There was already the lake there dammed up by the Parker Dam, but other than that it was primarily a piece of desert next to some water.  Mr. McCulloch had to bring in people in order to start this wonderful community.   

McCulloch had purchased 11 Lockheed Electras, and formed McCulloch International Airlines, to fly in prospective buyers from all over the country. Splashy magazine ads enticed snow-weary would be customers to take a free flight to Paradise.  When they arrived, they were greeted by one of the Holly salesmen, who taxied them around in the trademark white Jeep.  In all, there were approximately 40 identical vehicles in the fleet, said to be the largest contingent of white Jeeps in the world.--Havasu Magazine

Many of my friends' parents arrived in Lake Havasu that way.  Now, I'm not exactly sure if my father came way of the Electras, but I have to assume he did.  He came out to look at a redi-mix plant since that's what he was doing back in the midwest.  Bet he kicks himself all the time for not purchasing it.  Well, if you know me, then you know what he ended up buying.  Gotta say I enjoyed that rather than I would have a redi-mix plant. 

For the most part, I went to school from kindergarten to 12th grade with the same bunch of people.  Granted some of them went to those other lame elementary schools, but we were all together from 8-12th.  I know some people moved away, but to be honest, we really did not feel your loss.  What I mean by that is that today with facebook, it seems you were always with us.  There were those of you that entered our lives between those 12 years and after putting you in your place, we welcomed you. 

But we have had our share of losses.  And to me being from what I consider a small town, I feel we have had too many.  We have had too many that have died before their prime.  There are too many that have died prior to their 40th birthday.  Crap there were too many that died before their 30th.  And a few before their 20th. 

My question of why will never be answered.  But for a city that supposedly grew by 1,000 each year from 1964-ish,  that is too many for a town of roughly 30,000 by the time I graduated.  And may be other towns have the same number, but I guess when it is your hometown, it hits home. 

The first classmate's funeral I attended was for Nikki.  I remember sitting at that funeral surrounding by friends and enemies (enemies is not the right word, rather people I clearly didn't care for).  I remember that day perfectly like I was sitting there right now.   I remember realizing that I needed to make those enemies my friends because there was only a few thousand of us.  My graduating class was 221/222, which means roughly the entire school during my four years was probably no more than 1200.  Crap some high schools today have that in one graduating class. 

I'm not saying I knew everyone in my high school.  I definitely wasn't friends with all of them.  Because like most schools, there were the clicks, chicks, and jocks.  But in some weird sense, I did know them.  And what I have found over the years is that I've become to know more and more of them because we keep meeting at these memorials. 

I have 364 friends.  Almost one for each day of the year.  Seems like after each one of these memorials, I add a few more.  It isn't that I don't like adding new friends, even though only 120 wished me a happy birthday, but I am sick of doing it after memorials. 

Those that have gone before us watch over us constantly and I am somewhat grateful for that, but I sure in the hell wish they were watching over me standing next to me in person.  Jeff's brother recently wrote-don't forget him.  We won't and we won't ever forget the others as well. 

Am I the only who thinks for a small town, we've lost way too many?

Stay safe my fellow classmates, stay safe.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Big Chill

I believe one of the greatest movies ever made is the Big Chill.  I realize some people don't think so, but I love the movie.  One of those I could watch over and over.  Do you know Kevin Costner is in that movie.  He is Alex.  In the beginning of the movie, the group of friends receive telephone calls and then start preparing to go to a funeral. 

As many if not all of you know that I wear the green and grey to work every day.  I will admit that during the winter, I rarely change my shirt, and hell in the summer I just spray febreze on it.  It is called laziness.  Otherwise I have to take off the name tag, badge, and all the stuff in the pockets and move it all to another shirt.  Um, yea like a 2 minute project, but as I said laziness. 

Every time I prepare my uniform shirt for my Monday after my weekend or a vacation, the beginning of the Big Chill always rolls through my mind.  I do not know why but it always has. 

As you know on January 1, 2012 the National Park Service lost another fine Park Ranger, Margaret Anderson.  I did not go back to work until January 4th, which if you are still a friend of mine on fb, you know it is the greatest day in the world or my birthday. 

As I dressed that day for work and slipped the black elastic band over my badge, I thought back to the beginning of the Big Chill.  I stood there getting dressed looking out the the window to the most beautiful scenery.  The words that flashed through my mind at that moment were not what I expected...

"This might be my last"

It wasn't really a mordid thought, it was just a truth.  However, I do not think Margaret woke up January 1st and thought that. 

I have decided for my birthday and for the rest of my life, I will celebrate every morning that I wake up.  Life is a celebration so CELEBRATE while you have it. 

Peace -  The grey and green