Here we are, right in the middle of March 2020 and I’m completely stunned at the events surrounding me. Coronavirus is dominating the media and toilet paper aisles; the stock market is plunging during an alarming freefall and travel is being discouraged.
What ARE we baby-boomers going to do?
I’ve made the best of the new year up to this point, even setting my blog aside in exchange for cramming as much activity as possible into the new decade.
“And yet,” as they say, “here we are…!”
It’s time to slow down, write, reflect and plan how I’m going to survive a pared-down version of spring.
Beginning with beauty
Few places that I’ve been fortunate enough to visit have warranted my reverence as much as Sedona, Arizona. Traveling the first week of January, I boarded a plane with Ollie, one of the “Thelmas” to my “Louise,” and headed to territory neither of us had experienced.
Neither of us can explain what happened there, even though it was tangible.
Sedona is known for its ability to reawaken spiritual beliefs, regardless of where your religious or HIgher Power philosophies lie (for me, God and Christianity). There seems to be absolute proof in the red rock beauty that Someone or Something knew exactly what they were doing when they created the buttes, the canyons and the vortex enigma.
The beauty of the area is indescribable, at least through words.
When a picture paints a thousand words~
L to R: Montezuma's Well; Montezuma's Castle and a prickly reminder that you're in the desert, Coconino National Forest
Our first day took us to the ghost town of Jerome, a mining town dating back to 1876. Home to the world’s largest kaleidoscope store, the picturesque little community offers artisan shops, incredible photo ops, and a peek into the supernatural. It was a curious, interesting introduction to what the week would hold.
Welcome (??) to Jerome, AZ
We left no stone unturned in the Sedona area. “Thelma and Louise” took a Pink Jeep tour to the Grand Canyon, hiked Bell Rock, shopped till we dropped, watched snowflakes the size of dinner plates fall (at least it seemed that way to these humidity-laden Texans), and laughed our way through seven days of memory-making.
At some point during our escapades, I overcame my fear of switchbacks and cliffs. How? By driving instead of being the passive passenger. And Ollie? She overcame her fear of maneuvering heights and rugged terrain by hiking the hills and viewing the world from a totally new perspective.
With the price tag still on her walking stick and, at the start, not a speck of dirt on her hiking shoes, Ollie was able to conquer her fears AND the rugged trail
Perhaps it was our creative side that allowed us to experience this area so intently (Ollie as an artist, me as a writer), but the region had a profound inspirational effect on both of us. From our first step onto the majestic landscape, we both felt like we had discovered “home.”
And we committed to going “home” again, soon.
Steak, taters and boozy French toast
As Baby Boomers, it’s important that we resist the temptation to sit back and wonder if our best years are behind us. True, maybe we are not going to conquer the world, and heaven knows we aren’t going to win any First Place trophies in the appearance division by today's standards of beauty, but we can still be sponges for knowledge and enjoyment found in experiences that interest us.
For me, one of those things is cooking, so when my friend Renee (another of my "Thelmas") invited me to take culinary classes with her, I said my unusual, “Hang on! Let me get my shoes!”
We signed up for classes at Giddings, Texas’ Gourmet Divas. Our first class was taught by Chef Dean Chambers (Austin’s Siena Restaurant). With wafting savory aromas making us hungrier by the second, Renee and I picked up several valuable tips, enjoyed some good wine and each other’s company and dined on the best Cream of Tomato Soup, Filet of Beef with Wine Reduction, and Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes ever!
Our second class, taught by Chef Mark Landry, brought a little breakfast to the dinner table.
Ever thought about adding a bit of spirits (Grand Marnier, in this case) to your French Toast? Me neither, until now. On the menu was Boozy (Grand Marnier) French Toast, Eggs Benedict and Potatoes O’Brien.
Yes, I’ve made some of the recipes in my own kitchen with much success and they were definitely hubby-approved!
But if you can’t find your way to a cooking class, pick up a new magazine and experiment with a couple of new-to-you ingredients. Either option works; and it's a simple way to add a little spice to your life while you're at it!
The recipe for the delicious Ham and Asparagus Frittata can be found in Magnolia Journal, Issue #14, Purpose. The fried okra was a last minute menu addition because it's never a bad time to include a family favorite, right?
“Why don’t you just buy a bracelet?”
Lanny utters these words every single time I slave over the instructions while trying to finish the latest piece of jewelry I’m determined to conquer. It’s become an ongoing joke. I come home from Houston’s Beadoholique Bead Shop class (usually with an unfinished item because I'm a newbie at this) and sit at my desk surrounded coffee cups, snack wrappers and Visine— with The Golden Girls blaring in the background— until about 2AM, trying to figure out how to weave jump rings into recognizable chain maille pieces.
And it goes something like this the next morning:
Me: Look! I’ve almost got it licked!
Lanny: Didn’t you go shopping when you and Renee went to Houston?
Me: Yes. (Oh, God. Here it comes…)
Lanny: Why didn’t you just BUY a bracelet? Do we need to go jewelry shopping … again?
Instructor for the class, Cindy Patrick, is more skilled at whipping out incredibly intricate pieces than I will ever be, and her patience and dedication to the craft are admirable.
Chain maille is a method of weaving metal rings into patterns such as the ones seen in the photos below. The craft was originally used to create armor, dating as far back as 300 BC, particularly in European, Celtic, Roman, Persian and Japanese cultures. Today, the technique is still used, primarily in butcher gloves and jewelry.
For me, it’s not about owning more jewelry. It’s about learning something new and knowing that I can follow through with a project, with the end result being something I’m proud of. It’s about meeting new friends and stretching my brain until it aches. It's about Renee and I laughing until we nearly cried at the expression on my face when I thought class was over and realized, nope! One more hour to go... (It’s about receiving a not-so-gentle visual reminder to schedule an overdue eye exam.)
The best friends are the ones who can spot the perfect card that duplicates your exact expression upon discovering that you have one more hour of tedious work ahead~
Next time I visit the Renaissance Festival, I’m going to pay very close attention—and possibly bow down in reverence— to the costume designers. I’ll also enjoy a private chuckle, knowing that if I had to create that chain-linked body armor, the Festival participants would, indeed, be naked.
2020, so far, in my rearview mirror
This year has also brought a home update that required me to paint— and consequently fall off a ladder, landing me bed-bound for a couple of days with a wounded back. I’ve kept grandkids and taken a little time to read, and I’ve kept my focus on my two New Year’s guide words: Relax and Enlighten.
While yes, I was very BUSY, I was also generating positive energy. I enjoyed every minute, even though it delayed my blog entries. (I consider it time spent “researching for quality content.” Lol) In the process, I discovered a lot about myself, and life— including the fact that I can survive flat on my back for a couple of days if pain dictates that I do so.
But all in all, I’ve had a blast.
The argument could be that your reality is more complicated. Perhaps you’re unable to fly away to Arizona because of finances, health or family obligation. It may be true that you don’t have access to cooking or jewelry classes. Each of us has different circumstances that we have to navigate— some of which are very difficult— but there are always inventive ways to stay passionate about life.
Maybe you can’t do everything, but surely, you can do something.
With the impending threat of Coronavirus hot on our trails, we may have to hunker down and live “closer to home” for a while. We may cringe at the thought of tumbling stocks and the effect it will have on our future.
But, “this, too, shall pass.”
I’ve been comfortable. I’ve also been so poor that I basically lived on air. What I know for sure is that the sun still rose in the East and set in the West, regardless of what my bank statement said. Whether or not I chose to understand that the most beautiful things in life are free, was totally up to me.
It’s seductively addicting to watch the news on a constant basis; however, we then risk falling into the trap of believing we’re doomed. I’m choosing to limit more than my exposure to COVID- 19— I’m opting to also limit my exposure to the constant barrage of frightening information. Staying informed is necessary; beyond that, over-saturation is dangerous.
This year has already been one wild ride. Maybe we can use the "down time" to reevaluate, regroup and come out stronger in the end.
Living “closer to home” for a while won’t really matter to me. I’ll read good books, catch up on movies I’ve been meaning to watch, write, cook, reconnect with more of my "tribe," make a few more pieces of jewelry, get back to exercising regularly and I'll and dig in the warm soil of spring.
Beyond that, I’ll use a bit of that time to ponder my next trip “home.”
Bluebonnets bloom regardless of the latest news. Be like the bluebonnets...
Bloom a little every day.
Here's a wonderful video by Margaret Manning, founder of Sixty and Me. If you enjoy her uplifting message, please follow Margaret at https://sixtyandme.com/.
All photography taken be me; card by Avanti Press
If you're in the Houston area and want to try the classes or buy some jewelry supplies, please contact Cindy or Lisa at Beadoholique Bead Shop. Great selection!