Thursday, February 9, 2012

Some Days Are Pretty

Things here in this space lately have been focused on the down and dirty, so I figured I'd better share a little bit of the ...well...the at least not grody, before I completely scare off every last one of you.

I thought I'd share some of our more aesthetically pleasing and not poop-centered antics. The fact that these antics took place off the farm is not an indicator that non-poop-centered fun cannot occur here. This fun just happened to happen elsewhere, OK? We straight? Good.

Last Thursday, Mike, me, Dad and Mom were at the hospital in Flagstaff awaiting the outcome of my sister Lynda's spinal surgery. Everything went well - the surgeon was surprised at how uncomplicated Lyn's surgery turned out to be given that he had expected it to be a tense, long, and well, kind of dangerous endeavor.

Still, everything ended up going really well; no chest cracking or collar bone removing needed after all. The services of the cardiothoracic surgeon and neuromonitoring guy standing in - just in case - weren't needed, either. In fact, from the way the surgeon was acting afterward, I got the distinct impression those guys were just hanging out in the surgery theater, playing with their DSIs and IPads, totally leaving all the spine cutting and swabbing and suturing to Dr. Glover. Slackers. (Did I mention they put a little canister full of ground up bone in Lyn's neck in the hopes her spine will knit itself back together? Our bodies are so stinkin' cool.)


It was Thursday evening, after the surgery, that I was sitting with Lyn and Mike in the ICU, listening to the rhythmic, slurpy sound of her ventilator as she slept, that I noticed some soothing sounds coming from the hallway. When I stepped out of Lynda's room to find my way to the, I saw this guy sitting at the end of the nurse's counter in his wrinkled, undyed, unbleached, natural fiber button down shirt, strumming away on his acoustic guitar. Hangin' out. Just playing for the sick people. In his Birkenstocks. Eyes closed. Dude.   Not a half hour later, this fresh-faced, utterly serene 20-something girl with light brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, no makeup, dewey skin dotted with a light sprinkling of freckles, glided quietly into the room, stood in front of me and quietly said, "My name is Promise."

Well, of course it was.
Because this was Flagstaff after all, and nowhere does granola-lite like Flagstaff.  Not smelly, been hugging the trees a little too long granola like you might find in, Flagstaff has a much cleaner, soft-spoken brand of hippy chic going on here.
It made me smile to see these two characters in the ICU that night, and brought back the memories of my years living in Flag. Going to NAU, going to work for the Forest Service, getting married, having a baby, falling in love again, getting married again, this time among the quaking aspen, having another couple babies....  There's lots to love about Flag. It's a pretty mountain town, a bit unexpected for those who envision Arizona as desolate desert with cactus and rattlesnake, and that's all.
The city (which is technically a metropolitan area, but I don't buy it) has lots of little charming elements that make it a great place to stroll.

A couple weeks ago, I accompanied Lyn to a pre-op appointment that went waaaaayyyyy longer than we expected and it became apparent we weren't going to be able to high-tail it back home before the newspaper office closed, as I had planned. So, on to Plan B - stroll a bit.
First, we stopped by Late For the Train, a fabulous coffee shop where you can get all manner of drinks and goodies and all-natural baked goods.

They've changed things up a bit since I used to stop in here all those years ago when I lived in Flagstaff and worked just down the road from this yummy smelling place.

 See the ladies sitting at the table there?

They're another brand of Flagstaff resident. They're what I like to call the Patagonia crew. Or, in today's vernacular, the North Face group. Some of you may know them as the Eddie Bauer gang. You know the type - these gals could take off at any moment for a hike in a box canyon near Sedona, or strike out across the broad expanse for a little cross-country skiing action before heading to work in the morning. Time to break in the powder at the top of the mountain? This is your crew. And all of this will be done with brisk color in the cheeks and perfectly symmetrical, smooth, no-frills hair.

Yep, they're another face of Flagstaff.

I don't have photos here of the leather-elbow-patch professor set, environmentalists, artists, archeologists, or frat boys represented here. Perhaps another time.

Anyway, back to our wandering.

We checked out our favorite shops downtown. (See that rippled aluminum ceiling? Yep, I got a line on some of that stuff that we'll be putting into play around the house and farm. Yee haw.)

This cool little place wasn't here last time I wandered through. I didn't get to stop in, but will give it a try next time.

Ahhh, the candy shop. I love this candy shop. I've never bought anything in it, mind you. No, I love it because it is right next to the only public restroom I have found during my downtown wanderings, and usually, by the time I get to it, I am so glad to see it. This trip was no exception.

After the obligatory pit stop, Lyn and I went in to our favorite downtown shop, P.J. Chilcottage, and as usual, it did not disappoint. I was having way too much fun window shopping and forgot to take pictures of the darling boutique clothing items, clever decor offerings and many hand-made soaps. I loved these darling headbands, which I did not get for my girls, by the way. I had already snatched up some other cute hair things for them.

Then, I found these awesome children's books with big, fat, retro primary-colored artwork and I was sold. I knew I had to get one for niece Ellie.

See how pretty Gretel is? See how innocent Hansel looks? See how freaky the witch is?

I decided not to scar my sister's only child with the creepy put-the-kids-in-the-oven story, and opted for the much kinder, gentler story of the little girl being chased by a drooling wolf intent on devouring her with its crunching, slashing jaws.

See? Isn't that a much better tale for a just-turned-six-year-old? Nothing can be scary when you're looking at those chubby cheeks.   Then, I saw this card and thought again of Miss Ellie.

We haven't spent nearly enough time talking about Miss Ellie in these parts. But, trust me, this card fits the bill. I'll talk to you more about her later, then you'll be nodding and chuckling with me, agreeing the card is perfect.

On we strolled.

We found this place.

How darling is this, I ask you? I didn't ask Lynda to lounge on the lounge for a photo. Our stroll was pre-surgery and she wasn't much for the up-and-down motion lounging would have required.

Still, darling, darling merchandising.  Lynda picked up a few fabulous little things in here for our Aunt Carol's birthday. Shhhhhh, don't tell her.

For every Fizz in Flagstaff, though, you also have an Incahoots; you know, just to keep the cosmic balance.

If anyone has an explanation for Miss Greenie, here, feel free to fill me in. I'm not sure what disturbs me more - her head, those eyebrows or that horiffic purple bow.

It's a conundrum.

Here's the rest of the window display. I only included it so you can see that Chip 'n Dale are really creepy when you let them grow to gigantic proportions. And also because I think the reflection of the buildings across the street is kind of cool. I was using my unsophisticated phone camera with my woeful photography skills, so you can't expect much from me on these little outings.

By the way, if you have any friends who like to dress in drag ... and you know you have those friends ... this is the place for them. Wigs, flashy clothes, shoes...the works. I couldn't get past the smell of old shoes, so I didn't last long in the store. But the determined cross dresser would undoubtedly find some jewels in there, I tell you what.

OK, next we stopped at another candy store. Only this place isn't just for someone looking for a pit stop. This place is for serious candy lovers. See this girl here?

She's making caramel in that big ol' vat.


I didn't have any. In fact, I didn't have any candy at all that day, in spite of it being everywhere around me. Not sure how I let that happen.

I did buy Mike some candy, though. Contained in that cute little bag are turtles - milk and dark chocolate varieties - and a couple big slabs of peanut brittle. He was a happy boy.

If you decide you want to get in on some of that warm caramel action, just stop in here next time you're in Flagstaff.

They're sure to have something that will make your skirt fly up.

We went to a few other great places, and just enjoyed our strolling. Flagstaff has really evolved into a neat little mountain town. I remember it being less charming when I was a young girl and visited there. Now, it has a character that I really enjoy.

Son Adam loves Flagstaff and has never quite forgiven us for moving him from there about 13 years ago. Before he left for South Africa, he'd steal away to Flag for a hit, every so often. (A hit of Flagstaff, that is, not anything our granola-lite friends might have had to offer. Just to be clear.)
You know you're in a bit of a romantic state when even the murals and grafitti have you all gooey.

This slightly creepy mural really fascinated me and I know it really would have tripped Adam's trigger.

This nod to the Native American influence of the region was spray painted on the wall of the alley next to the candy store.

But it was this scrawl that I drove past while we cut down an alley that just made me all warm and fuzzy inside. Just a plastered, unfinshed cement wall with such an optimistic message.

I loved it.  Talk about seeing beauty where most might not expect to. Talk about hope.

This turned out to be my favorite image of the day. It kind of epitomizes life right now.

Lyn's coming out of a dismal, grey period where she felt lousy for a couple years, found out cancer was the culprit, cut out her thyroid, blasted the leftovers -- and her insides -- with radiation to obliterate the dirty cells, then waded through months of pain waiting to get well enough to tackle her spinal injury.

I believe there is ample opportunity for beauty and life to grow out of the desolate place she's found herself.

And, I'm ready to hang out by her side till she's ready for the sunshine to do its thing in her life again.
Love from the farm (with rejuvenating trips to pretty here and there),