I set high aspirations each weekend to update this blog. I find that weekends take on a life of their own, rather like novelists report about their characters. The writer may introduce the character and imagine their inception, but at some point the writer can only sit back and watch what happens. So it is with our weekends… delightful surprises keep us guessing.
Last weekend I welcomed Allen and his buddy Mark Dubowski back from the Grand Canyon. And boy was I happy to see them! We took Mark back to Phoenix on Saturday afternoon, dropping him off at the Econolodge near the airport. We dropped ourselves into chairs at the Fry Bread House imagining we would grab a quick bite and head for the Heard Museum. However, the Fry Bread House is navajo owned and run and we got the opportunity instead to drop into Navajo time and settle in for a heavy dose of fry bread and beans. The timing set us up to head straight for our romantic getaway… to a hotel whose main requirement was to have a well recommended restaurant contained therein. So, we ended up at a golf resort kind of hotel. For Phoenix, the rate seemed good enough.
Whiplash. From Fry Bread house to valet parking. And high tea happening in the lobby. We drove around the compound and found the back entrance to our room. Notably missing was a coffee pot. As we got ready to have a high ‘tini, I scouted for ice. For a long time. Then we read that we had to call room service for ice delivery. For reasons we have not figured out, they lock the ice machines in the cleaning closet. We noted that Mark probably had both ice and coffee maker in his room and that was probably more our speed.
But, enjoy we did. There were trees laden with oranges lining the walkways. I learned through personal experience that they were not the Florida kind of orange trees, but some sour bitter poisonish tasting orange fruit. We did have a delicious dinner and enjoyed a very plush bed and a balcony overlooking Camelback Mountain.
Valentine’s Day we indulged in a late start (and a long line at the coffee bar), and then headed to the Heard Museum. Since we came on Sunday, we got to see the finals of the Native American Hoop dancing competition. Apparently this is an annual international affair. I wondered what the hoop dancing looked like before plastic hoops. There was a variety of costuming and shoes and jingling through the competition. The sun beat down on us as we watched the dancing and heard the singing and drumming… wondering what the chanting meant.
The museum itself is amazing. It well describes the different tribes and locations in Arizona and surrounds and displays beautiful historical and contemporary artifacts. I left impressed by the athleticism, the beauty of the determination to maintain and interpret tribal traditions and beliefs, and the resilience, creativity, and resourcefulness of these peoples.
There were excellent descriptions of the tribes and their alliances through the years. The Yavapai reservation fingers into Prescott around town. We remain curious about how the money flows between reservation land and non-reservation land. We understand that about 25% of Arizona land is reservation land.
A favorite part of our Phoenix time for me was hearing trail tales from Allen about his Canyon adventures. They included a rat that came up to eat some of his trail food — then met his eyes and ran away, a wizened (or grizzled?) face on the man riding cleanup behind a mule train of tourists giving a nod to Allen and Mark who stood aside with packs on their back to make way for the tour, to the sheer pleasure in Allen’s eyes at achieving 53 miles in 7 days. He hiked out with a notebook full of trails for us to master in Prescott and near environs he collected from other hikers on the trail. Here are a few photos he took on his hike:
Then we headed back for a week of school. This was the week that I learned the last of the basics of Swedish. Full back, Full front, Full body. Class is getting predictable: Sit on my bum for the morning session which is either kinesiology (how each muscle works), anatomy/physiology: why we need vitamin K2, the facts of life — meaning all the great leafy greens I love have cyanide in them, the pros and dangers of oxygen, calcium, iron, and the need for balance,balance,balance. One morning last week I was taught ‘universal precautions’ which in short means: if it’s ooey, gooey, and not yours, then don’t touch it.
Afternoons are dedicated to Swedish massage. 1 hour of demo. 1 hour of put up tables and partner up. One of you strip, the other massage. Then, switch. I was loaned a table for Valentine’s Day and after to practice on Allen. It was enlightening.
I started my gentle ‘efflourage’ and then emboldened into petrisage (think kneading bread). I rested my hand on his knee and he jumped. Ow!!!! His knee had worked hard on the hike up the canyon. I stood there, not sure what to do. So I worked on the feet and the shoulders and the head and Allen said it felt ‘really good’. Then I practiced turning him over. That worked well. Until I practiced ‘tapotement’ (which is tapping quickly and forcefully and which feels really good). I practiced all over Allen’s back. Then I heard, “OUCH”. And i realized I’d just tapotemented all over his kidneys. I heard the teacher’s voice: we NEVER do tapotement over the kidneys. I jumped back from the table. I thought I was killing Allen. I felt like I’d just made a pound cake that had all the right ingredients and was still blowing up in the oven.
Allen got off the table and said it was wonderful. This is why our marriage works so beautifully.
The next day I got to practice a ‘full back’ in class. My subject was my friend Peggy, who is very petite. I decided to practice ‘vibration’ which means pulling a limb tight in traction and then shaking it a little bit. I grabbed both her legs and straightened. Peggy’s head bounced up. What happened? I asked her. I had pulled her entire body down the table and her chin had bumped into the table and her head had lifted off the head rest.
I have more practice to do. This week is my ‘learning demonstration’. I think I will at least remember to only vibration in the supine position, and not tapotement over the kidneys…. Fear not. I will get this all straight before my return to practice on you friends of mine. I thought you would enjoy a window into the almost mundane classroom life I live.
I am fortunate that my classmates are quick to laugh and quicker to forgive. I actually have a reputation for giving very good massages — potential injuries notwithstanding.
But I live for weekends. This weekend we went to Sedona again. Allen found an inexpensive room with a fire place near the airport. This was our view upon arrival:
I loved the fireplace! It is the thing I miss about ‘home’ the most (except friends, of course): our wood burning fireplace. And it was cold and rainy most of the time, so sitting in front of a burning flame was a special treat.
We headed to eat at the Barking Frog restaurant. We walked in the door and Allen said very nonchalantly, “There’s Nicolas Cage”. Where? “Right there”. And there he was, looking every bit as much like Theo as always. We were promptly seated and as I looked at this star, I noticed a very large and memorable ring on his right pointing finger. Nicolas Cage beat us out of there. I saw the group seated in his seat and wondered if they would ever imagine that their seat had been warmed by a Hollywood star.
The next morning we were up early. We headed for Boynton Canyon – a very popular 5 mile hike through a forest and up into the red rocks. There was a forecast of 100% chance of rain so we expected to get wet, but were delighted that we woke to dry skies.
These two creatures welcomed us onto the trail. This baby deer had a mama nearby. The bluebird was so brilliant and bright. That is a lovely thing about the desert: how bright and shocking the birds shine to be.