Archive | November, 2018

Counting more blessings and saying Thank You.

30 Nov

Let’s go hiking for a week in February… My wife, as usual, had a great idea. Normally we would try a couple of day hikes in February, on the weekends, and if the weather was mild.

Blessing #1: We would be hiking in Southern Arizona, I had never been there, and it is quite a bit farther south than Northern Virginia.

Blessing #2: This was our first hiking Trip hosted by REI, so we would be hiking with a group, with trained guides.

Blessing #3: They would help us with transport of our luggage and would provide lodging and food… on the trail or otherwise.

Blessing #4: Another couple, two of our good friends, would also be taking the same hike with us:)

Blessing #5: One of my wife’s cousins lived just north of Phoenix and we could stay overnight with them on two separate nights; first between adventures, and then just before we flew home.

Blessing #6: We were going to be able to get in a couple of days of bonus hiking in Sedona, AZ.  We had driven there once, the landscape is spectacular, and we were looking forward to exploring the region around Sedona for a few days.

Mixed Blessing #1: we had to get up really, really early for our flight to Phoenix. But, we had gotten up early before, and it meant we would have more time to visit the old town in Scottsdale, AZ. We were overnighting there and meeting up with our REI Group the next day.

 

 

Mixed Blessing #2: Though the weather was temperate, we noticed large gobs of people all heading to some type of stadium. We asked a stranger on the street, where’s everyone going? It’s Opening Day of Spring Training for the Cactus League he said. We took a quick walk around Old Town to spot a potential restaurant for dinner, but then we were each bitten, or at least I was bitten, by the spontaneous bug. We saw a man standing along the street trying to sell a pair of “great” tickets to the Opening Day game. “It’s sold out,” he said, he may have mentioned that his wife was ill also.  It may have been a story, but we felt we could afford a pair of tickets and decided to head to the Park to watch a bit of Professional Baseball Spring Training.

Blessing #7: Even though it was not sold out, the crowd was large, for that size stadium, and in a great mood. We sat, down the first base line, a bit into right field. We had a great view.

Blessing #8: Yes they did have hot dogs, no it wasn’t Southwestern food, but it went down easy with a bit of mustard and sauerkraut along with a nice cold bottle of water.

Blessing #9: We saw a couple of home runs, some decent pitching, some decent hitting and fielding, and a few errors of course. It was a hoot.

Blessing #10: We had a yummy Southwestern dinner with our friends. We live in the same area, but we had not seen each other very recently to catch up on the news. It was a great shared evening.

 

Blessing #11: We hit the lottery with our tour guides.  One was rated the #1 or 2 guide in the whole system. The other would have been a #1 guide on any other trip.

Blessing #12: It had rained recently in Southern AZ and the Saguaro Cactus were magnificently tall, plump, and everywhere.

 

Blessing #13: You never know how a week-long hike in higher altitude, in a desert, and during winter will go. Will we be fit enough, we wondered.  How will we shake down with the rest of group. Despite a small miss-adventure crossing the 3rd of 12 streams; we both did great with the hiking as did our friends.  About half of our group stayed back at the 2/3rds point of the hike and then the rest of us, “the rabbits”, I reflected charged off at an enhanced pace to reach the destination waterfall.

 

Blessing #14: The hiking was a bit more challenging, but the view of the waterfall and the catchment pools, and the ducks swimming in the lower pool was magnificent.

Blessing #15: We stayed overnight in a downtown Tucson Hotel. We had a superb southwestern dinner, slept well, geared up, and had breakfast in an old western bar. We then headed out for another great day of hiking, then lunch and visited a great park filled with southwestern Flora Fauna.

 

Blessing #16: We learned a lot about Saguaro and other Cacti during the trip, we saw animals, scat, climbed mountain ridges, and saw spectacular views across wide vistas.

 

Blessing #17: We had another restful night. Then an early morning departure, a tour of a large, now defunct pit mine, a talk with a local Native American Guide, a nice long hike, and then lunch in the park at picnic tables.

  

Mixed Blessing #3: A highlight was our visit to the border fence between Arizona and Mexico. We were surprised to learn that the high fence disappears after going east for a mile or so.  The conditions are arid and dry, not forgiving. Twice during the next day and a half I spotted black painted jugs. These are usually filled with water for the hundreds of people who  attempt to cross this desert border each year.

 

Blessing # 18 and 19: We drove up a high ridge to take in an amazing view of setting sun looking across multiple mountain ridges and ranges. Then we ate a scrumptious picnic supper outside. A special opportunity was an open discussion with a Border Patrol Agent who answered our questions and discussed the challenges, for Border Patrol Agents, to both help people survive who crossed the border to escape bad conditions and sometime threats to their lives, while at the same time trying to discover, and thwart, bad actors who tried to smuggle drugs and even children to become slaves or worse across the border.  I had the pleasure of riding down the high ridge with him back to our lodging for the night. It was a blessing to talk with him and to learn more about the nuances of protecting our border that are experienced by individual agents.

 

Blessing #20: After one more great hike, and a picnic in the rough, we head back to Phoenix. We rented a car, fought through an hour of congested traffic, and then arrived at my cousin-in-law’s home. We had not met her husband. He was a gem. Even better, he was a rock hound, and around his home he had grapefruit and other citrus trees and…

Interim count: Needless to say we got to 20 Blessings and 3 Mixed Blessings and we had not even started our excursion to Sedona yet. We highly recommend a week of walking in the Winter and we are very thankful for our health and opportunities to walk, hike and explore.  We hope everyone has a great Holiday Season and that you take a few moments to count your blessings.

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Bruce Summers is a Personal Historian at Summoose Tales, summersbw@gmail.com

He served as a global board member and director, regions and chapters for the Association of Personal Historians Bruce is a founding member of the Life Story Professionals of Greater Washington Area

See Also

Counting blessings and saying Thank you.

Counting blessings and saying Thank you.

18 Nov

It snowed Thursday. I needed to be at work downtown in Washington, D.C. early, but not too early.  I was co-facilitating a training class at 9:30 am.

Blessing # 1: As promised it had snowed overnight and it was still snowing. But it wasn’t too bad, the World Bank Group was open and cars were moving on the roads.

Blessing # 2: My driveway is built on a hill, so it was pretty easy to push 3/4 inch of snow down and away off the driveway. Though, it was a bit disconcerting that the snow was replacing itself almost as fast as I was scraping it off.

Blessing # 3: When I started sliding in my work-shoes, I could quickly transition into the snow boots I had already placed in the car for just such an eventuality.  “Be Prepared” I had learned as a Boy Scout.

Blessing # 4: I could quickly clear the snow off of my car with a broom. I think I learned this trick from a story about Chinese workers in Beijing being able to clear the sidewalks and roads with brooms, vs. snow plows.

Blessing # 5: I got on the roads and they were not too bad, people were driving a bit slower and cautiously, just right for travel in light snow. I turned right, then right again, and then left onto Prosperity.

Mixed Blessing 1: Traffic was starting to stack up at the first big hill down on Prosperity.  I saw a half-dozen cars turn around, some took an alternate route but it also had steep downs and steep ups. I decided to try my chances on Prosperity’s hills.

Blessing # 6: We slowly approached the congested section of the big down hill. After pauses and appropriate waiting, and timing when each up hill bound car would start its ascent,  we each slowly worked our way cautiously downhill. So far so good.

Mixed Blessing 2: The somewhat level part worked fine, then we started to stack up by the park. A couple of cars pulled into the park to wait it out. Ahead of us, up the hill, we could see two or three cars turned a bit askew.  They had tried unsuccessful tactics in climbing the big hill and were stuck slightly sideways blocking both the cars going down, and the cars like mine, that needed to go up. I duly queued up to wait my chance about 5 cars back.

Blessing # 7: I saw a woman from the second car, she was wearing a red coat, she got out and started walking up the hill to help.

Blessing # 8: I saw a second woman from the first car get out. She started walking up the hill to help the first.

Blessing # 9 and 10: Another man and I came to our senses and got out of our cars to walk up the hill to help the two woman push the stuck car.

Blessing # 11: A third man join us. The hill was steep, but with five of us pushing we gradually eased the upper most stuck car up about 75 to 100 feet and it had enough traction to keep going over the summit.

Blessing # 12 and 13: We walked down to stuck car # 2 and repeated the random act of kindness (RaOK), pushing the car up the hill until it could get traction. We walked down and repeated the RaOK with stuck car # 3. Then we all hurried back down to our cars since the hill was now clear.

Blessing # 14: the first car in the queue, with one of the pushers. Calmly and successfully scaled the hill no problem. The second car in the queue was also successful.

Mixed Blessing # 3: The third car got about half way up and got stuck. the fourth car in the queue, the one just in front of mine had to stop 1/4th of the way up. Then the man got out to push the third car.

Blessing # 15: Knowing one pusher likely would not work. I got out and ran up the hill, acknowledging blessing # 3 again and the two of us got the third car moving again.

Blessing # 16 and 17: The man in the fourth queued got a good start in his SUV and cleared the hill. So now it was my turn. I remembered to drive a snowy hill in lower gear.  I think I learned this from my Dad about 45 years prior. I started moving and kept moving at a slow but steady pace and easily cleared the hill, hopefully opening the path for 30 or more other cars that were queued up to go up or down the Prosperity hill.

Blessing # 18: I had no problems the rest of the way. The Metro (Subway) worked fine.  I realized that even with the hour lost pushing the cars up the hill, I would only arrive five minutes late for the start of the class.

Blessing # 19: I emailed my co-facilitator. She had negotiated her way into the World Bank Group by bicycle; a minor miracle I thought, this so she would not have to depend on the Metro buses, which are notoriously slow in snowy weather. I estimated I would be 5 minutes late for the start of the class.

Blessing # 20: The session started on time, with a recap quiz from last week’s session. My colleague was well prepared to carry on.  I was only four minutes late and we had a great session.

Final score: 20 Blessings, 3 Mixed Blessings, 4 cars pushed up the hill, a few RaOKs, I showed that I was prepared for life’s eventualities and I had done my good turn for the day. I was not the first to get out of my car to help, but I was one of only five that did get out to help our neighbors.

For all these blessings and for the lessons I learned in Scouting and from my father and my mother, I am truly thankful. I also remembered afterwards, that I had watched my son and three Boy Scout friends push 3 or 4 cars up a snowy hill in West Virginia about ten years ago, that was also a blessed memory.

I hope each of you has an opportunity to count your blessing, to do a good turn, and perhaps and RaOK this week.  Have a great Thanksgiving Holiday. To my four fellow pushers,  thank you for being good neighbors and for inspiring me to do my part.

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Bruce Summers is a Personal Historian with Summoose Tales. He is a member of the Life Story Professionals of the Greater Washington Area, and a former global board member and director of regions and chapters of the Association of Personal Historians. Everyone has Life Stories to share. Learn how – summersbw@gmail.com 

See also:

What does Thanksgiving mean?

Thanksgiving – Show and Tell

Thanksgiving checklist: cranberry salsa, bread, and the Voice Recorder App.

Skills to “Actively Listen” and Record Family Stories during the Holidays?

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