Dec. 24th, Sunday Morning about 9:00am
I’ve been texting with a good friend of mine from High School all weekend. He is in town and we are trying to find a time to get together to just catch up but also so he can share some photography tips and allow me to pick his brain.
It’s been hard because I have had family down all weekend and those weekends fill up quick with activities. Of course my family is my priority but I haven’t seen him for some time.
I am in charge of Christmas Even dinner tonight. The turkey has been brining and should be ready to go in the oven as soon as we get home from church around noon. Then I should have some free time to swing by and say hi. The plan is laid and I’m off to church.
I rush to get changed, get the turkey in the oven with temp probes inserted, and Sami is loaded so I can take my buddy and his wife out for a quick look at a slot canyon.
Surprisingly, even growing up in this area, he has never been to this canyon even though it is so close to home. This makes it an extra treat for me and them as we enjoy this canyon together.
The passageway is narrow and the red slick-rock walls rise beside us. It is December but quite pleasant to be honest. Maybe a bit chilly in the depths of the slot canyon, cold enough to create a few icicles in a seep high in a cove on the wall.
The canyon isn’t very well lit this time of year because the sun is hanging so far to the south. But a quick glance up to the sky reminds you that the sun is still out and sharing it’s warmth. The canyon is beautiful and the opportunity to reconnect with this friend has been great.
Sunday afternoon about 5pm
The turkey has reached temperature earlier than I thought it would. It’s out and the side dishes are in motion. My mother and sister are due to arrive around 6pm and that should be just about right.
Dinner is great. I feel the turkey was a bit dry, but then again, I am more particular at these things than most. I stuff myself just the same and sit in my favorite chair, legs up, basking in how over-full my belly feels.
My thoughts are turned to this week. Tomorrow, Monday, is Christmas Day. It will be a simple day spent with my little family. No plans, no appointments, no schedule. Just get up, open presents, and enjoy a lazy day at home.
The rest of the week should be about the same. Winter tends to be a bit slower for us at our business. Especially between Christmas and New Year it really dies down as families travel and such. So I usually try to close completely for that week. But, understandably, my employees pay check ends up being quite small with that much time away from work so the routine has been to open for a couple of days between so they can put in a few hours.
But, even though the shop is scheduled to be open on Wed – Friday, I have told them to not expect the boss in. I am taking advantage of this slow period and staying away from work. This is a chance to be with my family, take care of some projects around the house, and just be lazy quite honestly!
So I settle into the evening with a crooked smile on my face. My stomach is full and I’ll probably snack some more later tonight. Why not!?!? This week is MY week!
Dec. 25th, Monday about 7:30 am
J5 has stuck to her fear of Santa. So, in our house, Santa just doesn’t come. Even though there are presents under the tree we have been able to maintain a normal wake-up call and even manage to eat breakfast before the presents are pulled out and ripped open in excitement.
Monday about 9am
We have enjoyed a great Christmas morning. Gifts were given and received and those were followed by hugs and kisses both given and received. We are now settling into a comfortable, take it at your own pace, day.
Playing with toys, both the little kids and the big kids, and just being feels so good. I feel like it has been so long since I’ve just shut the world off, lowering my blood pressure (and I’m not kidding) and just tried to not have a schedule.
I’ve talked about my struggle with Time before. I was having that struggle now. It’s hard to not do any of the “important” things that I know need my attention. But by not doing any of the “important” things I am doing the most important things by just being with my family and experiencing the joy and satisfaction that is found within the walls of my home.
What a beautiful Christmas Day
Dec. 26th, Tuesday about 9am
It’s time to head outside and start taking care of business. I have plans later today to go for a drive with my family and one of my best buddies. He is down with his wife from MN and we always have a great time together.
The work-shop at home has become a disaster of my own making over the last few months. That whole Time issue has pushed me through projects that needed my attention but prohibited me from doing a thorough clean-up following the completion of that project.
As I put tools away, put garbage in the bin, and organize at a slow but effective pace; my mind wanders. I’m not really focused on any particular subject but they are all fighting for my full focus.
2017 has been a bit of a hard year for me. There has been a lot of emotion that I have kept bottled up inside as I’ve plowed forward in my daily pursuits. I am finding myself somewhat excited about 2018 and the “fresh start” it might offer me. A chance to peel away the old, dead skin and start renewed.
I keep thinking “what a beautiful day!”. We are nearing the trail head and I am excited to finally deliver on the goods I had promised a good couple of years earlier.
It’s a small Anasazi Ruin that took my wife and I three attempts to find. But it is remote and fairly well preserved, tucked up into the side of a rock face. My friend and his wife came with us on our second attempt some time ago. So I was excited to show them what we had finally found.
I wonder what it was like to have such simple lives. I’m sure they didn’t think it was simple as everything they did was focused on daily survival. But to live in small units and all working together to just provide the necessities almost sounds like a weird dream-land.
This small dwelling, perched up on this ledge, was what their world evolved around. There was no city to go visit to do their shopping at, no 9-5 jobs that ate up their energy and attention, no devices to clutter their thoughts. They were focused on the basics and we have strayed so far from that!
Dec. 27th, Wednesday 8:30am
Begrudgingly, I am driving into work. I planned to have this whole week off to do what I wanted, when I wanted. I agreed to open the shop, not because we would be busy, but so my employees could get a few hours in so their check wasn’t so slim through the holidays.
Then one employee plans to be gone and I get a text saying the second scheduled to work today is too sick. So that leaves me as the only other trained individual to run the front counter and register. My suspicions are that she is fibbing, wanting the extra day off, but either way, I told my customers with signs, voicemail greeting, and email notices that the shop would be open today.
Wednesday about 2:30pm
I’ve been working on my lunch for about an hour now. A bite here and a bite there as I jump from station to station keeping the jobs going. It hasn’t been what I would call a busy day, but more of a steady day. Not really a chance to catch my breath, but not hectic either. I am grateful for that!
Through the work I am trying to maintain a positive attitude. I’ve been meaning to get back out here and make sure I still have a handle on how to do everything. This is a good refresher for me. I’m also getting a chance to see some areas that need a bit more attention.
I had to put off a drive and a hike with my buddy but I’ve got the rest of the week to figure that out.
Dec. 28th, Thursday 10:30am
I’ve gone from a screw, to relocating stripped out lag bolts, and now good ‘ol bailing wire. I’ve been messing with this sign at my Dad’s shop for a half hour now. I think the wire should hold it.
I head inside to put the ladder away and quickly get sidetracked by the nostalgia that swiftly takes over my senses. As I wander slowly from showcase to showcase, overflowing with vintage cameras, lenses, and accessories, I can’t help but feel so impressed and proud of my father.
I find similitude with him nearly on a daily basis. I was definitely cut from the same cloth when it comes to comparing our likes, dislikes, and the basic things that make us tick. But in this moment his pedestal is raised even higher. A great man who built a great legacy.
Thursday about Noon
T2 has been talking and “ooohing and ahhing”, comfortably nestled in his back-pack carrier that is strapped to my shoulders as we hike around the edge of the mesa. It’s another beautiful day today. I slow down and wait for a second as my beautiful wife and daughter catch up behind myself, my buddy, and his wife.
When I have someone who can keep pace along with me I too often get talking and walking and forget that my legs stride longer than my wife’s, and even more so, than my daughters legs can keep up.
They weren’t far behind and my heart melts a little as I watch them coming towards me. Today just kinda feels like paradise. At this moment there isn’t a worry or concern on my mind. I feel complete with my family here next to me, one literally being carried on my shoulders, headed into this neat area on such perfect day.
This little amp-theater, hidden behind some trees, is another ancient Anasazi dwelling location. What makes this one different, and why we wanted to bring our friends here to see it, is the hand prints that are painted on the walls. Several of them in a row, a few more scattered around as you continue to look, and I’m sure many more that have disappeared over time as nature takes it’s course.
It’s a bit chilly in the shade of this cove. But lunch and laughter warms us up.
I’ve been here many times and every time my curiosity is teased by the unknown. How deep does it go, what feeds it, is there life in it…. It’s a small body of water that would nearly go unnoticed if you didn’t walk all the way up to it. The rock face surrounding it is vibrant with unique swirls, slots, and colors, with the small jewel of water nestled at the base in a dark hole. You almost think twice about approaching it’s edge as, seemingly, at any moment an albino crocodile might lunge out looking for it’s next meal.
This little hidden lake, which is much more the size of a small pond, is another unique feature tucked in the walls near my home.
I love that there is so much diversity here and am reminded why I work so hard to make a living in this little town. The sacrifice of having to work on my own yesterday seems to now be OK as I stand enjoying the view and soaking in the time I am spending with my family and the memories we are making in this moment.
Dec. 29th, Friday 1:30pm
Guess what?!?!? Yup, I’m at work again. Both employees scheduled to work today are sitting next to their toilets, pounding heads, waiting for the next wave of nausea to be relieved by……well, I won’t get too graphic.
They are both sick……… again, leaving only me, again, to run the shop on my own. And right now I am hungry but can’t leave to get lunch because I am running jobs and helping customers.
I knew that I would have to come into work at least once this week because I had a few jobs I needed to run in order to prepare for next week. But my hope was that I could come in on a quiet evening and work after dark. That time of the day is usually wasted sitting on the sofa watching Psych re-runs (actually that’s not a waste of time; it’s quality entertainment!!! You know that’s right! Whaaaaaaaaaat!!!) But it is time that the kids are in bed and adventuring is usually concluded once it turns dark.
Again I am trying to keep a positive outlook. It honestly has been a good refresher for me to be out here running the day to day front counter, answer the phone, doing the “need it now” type jobs. I am feeling a bit relieved as this experience has confirmed that I still got it! I haven’t forgotten how to do all of this stuff.
Dec. 30th, Saturday 2pm
The timing should be just about right. I can’t wait to get out to Sami so I can finish exploring a canyon I had found originally about a year and half ago. I just have about 300 more sheets to print, then it’s clean up, lights out, and off to the dirt!
I have been trying to gather my stuff together while running this job. I’m still a bit irritated that I couldn’t have done this work when I wanted rather than being forced to run it this morning because of the two days I had to fill in for sick employees. But in under a half hour I’ll be out on my own, seeing some new ground.
There it is! The stunning canyon I had only seen from a distance until this moment. My camera is in my hands and I am attempting to capture the awe and grandeur I am experiencing. I love being able to find a spot like this that is so neat and unique and be able to experience it alone for the first time.
I love to share these places with loved ones, don’t get me wrong, but the peaceful excitement of being able to soak it in piece by piece and step by step, at my own pace, without interruptions or distractions, just fills my soul with a healing nectar that I can’t describe.
My pup, Izzy, is attempting to follow me everywhere I go. Her and I have shared so many adventures over the last 10 or so years. But she just can’t keep up like she used to. I can see her age, not only in the gray under her chin and the lack of athletic coordination she used to have, but also in her eyes. I can see her willingness and excitement to be there in that moment with me but also a sense of longing to be on a soft bed, with me also, but in a more relaxing setting.
Her body is beginning to fail her puppy exuberance and that is heartbreaking for me. I had considered leaving her at home today. She would be bored while I was at the shop running my jobs and I wasn’t sure what the days’ ride or adventure would all entail. But I am so happy I brought her. She needed a little adventure. She’s been my right-hand gal through a lot of these adventures but I’m realizing those days are now numbered.
This week has been a good week. I feel like I have achieved balance fairly well. The plans I had for this week were taken, blended, and thrown into the air, but I still did everything I wanted to.
I’ve been able to just be lazy and hang out at home. I had a chance to re-connect with an old friend and show him and his wife a piece of the heaven I get to live in. I was able to spend some quality time with my family and make some great memories without the stress of work looming overhead. I was able to take some time to visit with one of my best friends during the window that he was in town for and got to adventure with them as well. Work called me out but even though it was forced and unexpected, it wasn’t an inconvenience and I was able to fulfill my duty and obligation there without allowing it to interfere with my life.
This evening has just been the icing on the cake. This little canyon is amazing. I have explored and soaked it in the best I could. I even was able to play with a new toy by getting some aerial footage with a drone.
Sitting here overlooking the valley I feel so much peace. The anxieties that the world places as stumbling blocks before me are forgotten while the thoughts of family, home, health, and other daily blessings pass through my mind. I really do have it good. Too often I complain about work getting in the way and eating up so much time and energy, or how it doesn’t allow for a consistent schedule so I can make routines of exercise so I can do something about this spare tire I’ve developed.
I complain about how the stress haunts me and eats at me day and night. How there are too many problems and not enough solutions. But in this moment those complaints, those problems have gained a sense of value. The source of those problems is also the source of the lifestyle I am living. It is providing me a means to take care of my family, while living in this beautiful area, and financing my adventures here.
I think it’s time to stop complaining……