Saturday, December 26, 2009

2009, A Year to Remember ... or Forget?

One Christmas tradition that has continued after the death of both my parents has been a Christmas Eve "lighting of the candles" with my sister and her extended family. The Malone children, their children, and my sister's extended family have dinner together and then conclude the activity by gathering in somewhat of a circle, pass out the white candles, and prepare to share what this year has meant to each, young and old, as the candles are lighted one by one.

My observation this year was that every family spoke of trials they had encountered during the year. Not in a "feel sorry for me" way, but of a sweetness that comes only from being tried and living to tell about it, only to be tried and tested again.

Some say, this year of 2009 was second only to the Great Depression in it's effect upon our lives and previous standards of living. I will leave my comments about that to a future blog ... but only reference it now to make the point that 2009 will indeed be remembered as a year of universal trial. Some of us, however, will remember 2009 as a year to be forgotten, and that would be a shame if we forget.

As our family lit our candles, and expressed what was on our mind and heart, there was a common thread weaving itself through our relationships, other than a common bloodline. We had been tried and had managed to still love one another. Another common thread evident in our remarks was feelings for God and His Son Jesus Christ. Most everyone confessed a deeper love for our Savior and for His spirit touching their lives with comfort and support. No one blamed God for their misfortune or loss of revenue. No one seemed full of regret or hard feelings. We had been tried ... and were found to be humble as we shared our feelings with one another.

As in the past, "this too will pass," and once again we will experience growth and harvest. How unfortunate if we do not learn the lessons from 2009 that were taught in abundance:

1. What matters most is family ... someone to share with and sacrifice for.

2. Avoid debt.

3. Develop a skill that could be used to provide income should the need arise.

4. Don't think you have a "forever" job or occupation ...
just ask those of us who "used" to be developers of real estate.

5. Develop interpersonal skills that could be transferred from one industry to another.

6. Save a little food and a little money, for a rainy day ... or month ... or year.

7. We are happiest when we are serving others.

8. A clear conscience is a great sleep-aid. Give an honest day's work for an honest day's pay;
forgive those who trespass against you; choose honesty over the potential of gain at the
expense of others; integrity means doing the "right" thing.

9. Clip a coupon, chase a sale, celebrate the savings.

10. Remember to give God all the glory and praise for your "new found" happiness and good
fortune as it comes.

Soon, the 2009 year will be replaced with a new year and hopes of a brighter future. It is my hope and prayer that the changes in me that came as a result of trial, will not be lost or forgotten. I hope to remember the sweet feelings of the Master's embrace as I wept for an other's illness or business setbacks. How I cared enough to mourn with those who suffered loss of loved ones and friends. How I penned a gentle note of appreciation and stamped it with love.

Yes, it was a difficult year ... one that I hope will never be forgotten.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thoughts on LDS General Conference

Saturday, the 3rd of October 2009, marked the 179th Semi-Annual "General Conference" of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the "Mormons"). Fortunately, I was able to attend ALL sessions via BYU TV and loved every minute of it. I have even recorded each session so I can watch segments over the next 6 months and study the words of the modern day Prophets.

At the invitation of our Stake President, I approached General Conference with personal prayer on subjects of personal interest and need. I hoped for answers, but knew that those answers would only come after personal study and meditation. Studying it out in my own mind, then asking God for confirmation.

The first answer came in the form of a hymn sung by the Tabernacle Choir, Saturday morning session. "Choose the Right, and God will bless you evermore." I believe that hymn carried the message of the Conference: "Agency ... We are free to choose."

We choose how we "respond" to challenges. We choose to be more diligent and concerned at home; Agency, the power to choose, was part of our pre-existant birthright; We are free to choose Temperance, Restraint, Yet patient in affliction - hold the course under pressure;

I thought Boyd K. Packers talk on "Spiritual Communication" was timely.

During the Saturday evening Priesthood Session, M. Russell Ballard gave valuable advice to Fathers and Sons on "How to Talk Together."

President Uchtdorph related principles that sustained him through his very difficult youth and early adulthood. He counseled: Work ... Fill your life with work. Be steady and consistent and things will improve.
Learn ... Education is not just a good idea, it is a commandment.

I loved President Eyrings talk "Those who are prepared, shall answer the call." He recalled an experience when a neighbors child had been hit by a car and not expected to live. President Eyring was called by the parents to administer. He had no time to prepare, but had oil and faith, and had lived the gospel so that God would have no trouble "finding him." He blessed the child ... and she lived.

President Monson spoke of "Anger." A feeling that many of us have found invading our souls as times get tougher. Sometimes we place blame for our circumstances ... and that leads to anger.

There were others ... but President Monson's talk on "Service," just confirmed my own convictions that unless we loose ourselves in the service of others, we are left to reflect on our own miseries ... and become selfish with our time, talents, and means. "We loose ourselves in pursuit of the "thick of thin things," when we don't serve," said President Monson.

My testimony of God and His eternal plan of happiness was strengthened by listening to conference and then studying the notes I took, and recording my feelings in my journal. How blessed I feel to have access to a "fountain of living waters," even the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its Prophets and Apostles. To be taught what God would have us know about how to survive these troubled times, is truly the Pearl of Great Price spoken of in the scriptures.

I know God lives and that he loves us. I also know that there are laws on which blessings are predicated, and obedience to those laws are essential to receiving those blessings. I feel I am better equipped to live those laws, having sat at the feet of wise men and women during this Conference.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Primary Program

Linda leads the music in Sacrament Service and I usually sit in my assigned seat two rows from the front, so we can sit together during most of the service. Today was our Ward Primary Program and the entire choir seating area was filled with primary age children. By themselves, they usually put on a real entertaining show, but today the 3-year olds stole center stage. Placed on risers in front of the podium, each with his/her own little chair, they sat their like little angels, just waiting for their turn to sing and present.

Linda and I had the best seat in the house. The teachers were sitting on the front row facing their charges, but that didn't stop the individual acts that took place right in front of us. It was a case of twenty five 3-year olds turned comedian. At first, all seemed normal as all eyes turned to watch the chorister. After a few songs, the attention span of a 3-year old turned to entertaining the congregation. With thumbs planted in each eye, he pulled down and revealed red eye sockets. Getting a little rise from his audience, the blond haired kid stood up and took a bow ... sending all of us in the front couple of rows into silent hysterics. Watching him attentively, another little boy decided to catch mom's attention, somewhere in the congregation, so he stood and waived a princely wave at him mom. Simultaneously, a little girl on the top riser became the object of attention as her seat mate noticed the beads on her brightly colored dress and began to pick at them ... which caused the little girl to react by falling off the riser, chair and all. Her teachers were off the pew almost before the little girl hit the floor. Put back into her place, the look of satisfaction she gave the boy brought tears to my eyes.

Then there was the nose picker, the hair puller, the "I can't keep my hands to myself" boy, and the ever popular "turn around and stand on my chair so I can see the group behind me," kid. I know I can't possibly describe the three-ring circus and do it justice, but it was so pure and real, we still got the message of the program, that no matter who you are; no matter your personality, your warts, or your beauty, God accepts us all and desires for each of us to return to His presence.

To help us find our way, he calls special Sunday School Teachers with the patience of Job, to lead, guide, and teach us what we should know. I watched with amazement how the teacher(s) of each class, treated each child with tender love and care, as they proudly guided their charges to the microphone to discharge the carefully prepared script. Teachers, thank you for your sacrifice and faith in preparing tomorrow's leaders each Sunday. You truly are special!

I can't wait until next year's presentation and for certain I will try for 2nd row seats.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Does God HAVE To Answer All My Prayers Pt 2

Let's see, where did I leave off ...? Let's see if I can catch up to my earlier thoughts. Agency produces trials. Trials bring experiences. Experiences develop character. Character is the sum of all the parts. ... Or something to that effect. If we believe that this earth life is staged and premeditated by a higher source of power and love, and I do ... then there must be some purpose for allowing bad things to happen to good people and good things to happen to bad people. It is called "Agency."

We are free to choose. What a marvelous principle.

But sometimes choices are made FOR us. Then we are still free to choose how we will REACT. I was recently terminated by a Company I had given 9 months of effort to. They called it "voluntary Resignation," but it was termination. Other than the pride hit ... it was the right thing to do. The Company made a choice in terminating my employment. I chose to react, not by blaming God for my plight, but by choosing to think out of the box and start another company. Whether or not that was a good choice, will remain the topic for future posts, but for now, I am filled with hope that I can benefit others with a service that will help build their business and provide substanance for my family and I. Another choice that will bring experience and trials and character and opportunity for growth.

If God answered our prayers WHEN WE WANTED THEM ANSWERED and in the WAY WE WANTED THEM ANSWERED, how would that work out? Well, I probably would have married my math teacher, for starters. I was 12 and she was probably 30. Not a good fit. Probably wouldn't have worked. Ya Think??

One thing to consider. God is perfect in His ways, or He wouldn't be God. You have certainly internalized the quote: God's delays are not God's denials," haven't you? For me, this means that God gives us time to season, if it is in our best interests to do so.

God doesn't forget us, although right now as I am being tried, it certainly seems so :>)
I was recently recommended for a position of employment that I felt I was perfect for. I submitted the most compelling resume, dripping with "choose me, choose me" sauce.
I didn't even get called in for an interview. OK, my pride was hurt for a couple of days, but then I came to realize that I would have had to give up other parts of my life and income, to work in this new environment. I still don't know if I would have enjoyed the experience once the novelty wore off, but had I been selected for an interview and ultimately offered a position, I would have taken it.

Only God could know that moving into that environment would have been like having a fish out of water. I might have suffocated. I might not have been happy long term, with the income ... even though RIGHT NOW it would be a blessing. IN THE LONG RUN, it might not have been. I have to TRUST in God that it wouldn't have been a good fit, and MOVE ON.

I hope I have explained my feelings correctly, just in case someone really does read this. It is not my intention to try and convince anyone to think or believe the way I do ... but if sharing my life's experiences helps someone else get through their troubles, then the time it takes to write and post will have been worth it.

God bless.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Does God HAVE To Answer All My Prayers? Pt. 1

Perhaps at one time or another, we have all been on our knees searching for answers to life's trials, only to fall short of receiving satisfactory responses or clear direction. Sometimes when we do receive what we interpret to be an answer and we act on that interpretation, we later discover that it wasn't in our best interests after all. "Why would the Lord confirm my prayers to accept this new job and move to another town, only to be laid off a few months later?" you ask.

The purpose of this post is to share some revealing insight into my own quest for understanding why I don't get clear direction when I sincerely ask for it during "need it, want it, got to have it" - type trials in my life.

Recently, a friend of mine came home rather abruptly after a few weeks of traveling in a foreign country. I went to his home and we talked for a time about his experiences and about his new found passion for the Constitution of the United States of America. He explained to me that he was torn between following this new passion to Washington, DC to march with other like minded people on 9/12 ... as a show of support for our country, or use that money to pay his bills. "It sure is easier to let our emotions rule our actions, than it is to provide a measure of control and reason" I counseled. "But the choice is yours to make. And there will be some type of reaction to the choice you make. How you develop from whichever choice you make, will determine in the long run whether or not it was the right choice at the time." If he chooses to spend the money in support of his current passion, and comes home, only to lay on the couch ... and not become involved with local causes, then spending the money had no benefit other than to provide a weekend of diversion. If he chooses to pay his bills with the money, but gets in contact with those who went to the rally and offers his support to them on a local level, putting in place a plan to attend the next 9/12 march in 2010, then he made the best of his choices, in my opinion.

I use this example only to introduce the concept of "Agency." In the Bible, we read of the great war in Heaven, where 1/3 rebelled against a plan of "Agency" that would provide each person the right to choose his pathway back to God. Some would choose a path that led to everlasting death ... and others would choose the way of eternal life ... but each would choose for himself. The other plan presented was to "guarantee" the successful return of each of us, and the glory be rendered to the the author of that plan. 2/3 of the hosts of Heaven expressed support for Agency ... the right of choice.

In order to exercise our agency, the Lord gave us principles, laws, and commandments to follow, and allows Satan, the author of the "other" plan, to tempt and persuade us to disobey. To get on our shoulder and whisper "lies," thus testing our resolve to stay on the pathway that leads to eternal life.

Choice came early after the formation of our world. In the Garden of Eden, Adam was presented with a choice ... either to stay in the Garden and remain true to Gods commandment to NOT eat of the forbidden fruit, or keep God's commandment to multiply and replenish the earth with Eve as his companion. If Adam did not partake of the fruit, he would have been left alone ... and by eating of the fruit, he would be cast out. Either decision would extract an experience. Only by making a choice would there be an "experience" to follow. It would be through these experiences that Adam and the rest of his posterity, would grow and strengthen in character and understanding. As trials and adversity would come to Adams children, they would pray for answers and direction. It seems from reading the Bible and other revealed scripture, that in those days answers to prayer often came from personal revelation and instruction from God himself, or one of his angels When Christ came to earth and taught his disiples they learned to depend upon him for their instruction and teaching. As the day of Gethsemene drew closer, Christ gathered his disciples to him and spoke of the "Comforter" that would come once Christ was gone. It would be the Comforter, the Spirit of God, that would teach and inspire. This would need to be so, so that all of Adams posterity might have access to Him.

What does all of this have to do with receiving answers to prayer? Everything!

If we will step back and look at our earthly experience as a blip in a long line of blips ... then the fact that we lost our job, lost our money, our home, our car, went through divorce, encountered sickness, etc., would not be of any consequence UNLESS we let one of those experiences derail us from taking the pathway of eternal life back to where God dwells. What matters most is how we react ... and what we learn from life's trials and adversities.

Many of us are currently undergoing great trials in our life right now. It might be related to work, money, debt, sickness, relationships, children ... There appears to be a tide of turmoil spreading across our land in the form of adversity and personal trial. Prayers are being sent heavenward by the droves; many sent from persons who haven't prayed in decades, but now find themselves unable to figure things out ... having to humbly seek the attention of a familiar relationship that existed many years ago, but somehow got dulled over the years of inactivity and independence.

Many faithful prayer warriors are even finding their own domains under attack and in need of support and direction. In these trying times, it is more important than ever to understand the principle of Agency and how it changes the way we think about prayer.

If you have had an experience as I have recently, in not getting a clear signal ... a clear answer to sincere prayer, then this next segment is for you.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Once upon a time, many, many years ago, there was a man who desired to be King. There were also many who desired to have a strong and powerful man be their King and to provide for them and protect them against their enemies. The man who would be King was skillful at flattery and led away many of the good people of the land from basic truths and religions of which their fathers had believed. Many judges of the land were also swayed to support the one who would be King, in exchange for powerful positions of authority and control. "Thus we see how quick the children of men do forget their Lord their God, yea, how quick to do iniquity, and to be led away by the evil one."

In time, the one who would be King caused a great yearning among the people for change, and through his cunning devices and the use of many flattering words, the one who would be King obtained great power and control over the people who supported his rise to power. But instead of protecting the rights and freedoms of those who supported him, he began to lobby his own agenda, in spite of the wishes of the majority of the people. There were protests from many of his former supporters, but they were deemed "disenters" and done away with. Yea, we see that just one man can destroy the lives and freedoms of an entire nation ... the very foundation of liberty which God had granted to them, so long as their nation remained righteous.

And there was a man in the land who yearned for a return of the precious freedoms he saw being taken from the citizens of his country by the one who would be King and his unrighteous judges and politicians. In search of a better country, he took flight to a land far away. It was a beautiful land. A land rich with natural resources and friendly occupants who welcomed him and made him feel at home. Our man traveled the countryside, hoping to find that which was missing from his heart in hopes to bring his family to this land of promise. He sent word to his anxious family that he had indeed found a land rich with beauty and promise and was traveling the country looking for opportunity and industry to export.

However, as time went by, our man in the land began to hear familiar dissention from the beautiful land's inhabitants. There were men living in this beautiful land, who were becoming more and more like the one who would be King, back in his own country, talking of more government control over the rights of the people, taking land for the government to distribute to the people, and government control of the media, etc. In moments of solitude, our man in the land began to yearn to be back home, to fight the good fight on his own soil, and help turn the tide against the government control of his own free choices.

Our man in the land returned home, more determined than ever to fight for the rights of the people, to protect his own God given rights, and those established by the founding fathers of this nation. He "rent his coat" or in other words, "cranked up his blog" and wrote upon it ... "in memory of our God, our religion, and freedom,and our peace, and our wives, and our children" ... and he posted it on his blog for all to see.

A "Title of Liberty" was set as his standard ... as he called upon all inhabitants of the land to gird up their armor, put on their breastplate and shield (aka: courage and conviction) and bow themselves to their Creator, for the blessings of liberty to rest upon their heads so long as there remained a band of believers to posses the land.

"Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them."(Alma 46:20)

And it came to pass, that when our man in the land posted these things, the people responded with a cry of "count me in," and they mounted their own blogs and began to write ....."in memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, and our wives, and our children." I join this cause of freedom and pledge to sound the war cry for all concerned citizens of the land to band together for the purpose of encouraging righteous government for the people and of the people, and for the preservation of our life, liberty and precious freedoms. And that they did ... didn't they?

**The inspiration for this impromptu literary exercise came from a blog posting by a friend of mine at (somewhere out there) ... travelings of a very disturbed middle aged man :>) I also took license to include scripture from the Book of Mormon, which tells of a leader named Moroni who etched the Title of Liberty as a lesson for the inhabitants of our time, written prior to Christs birth, and anticipating the very challenges we are facing in our society today. Whatever your personal beliefs are, or your political views, I hope this call for a Title of Liberty standard in our own time, will ring loud and true, and strike a chord in the hearts of all who read, so that they too will make the resolve to come out of hiding and make their voice heard. Let us join our differences for the common goal of supporting those who echo the cause of freedom.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


It's funny how hard times force you to think out of the box. I would never have answered an ad on Craigs List for a copywriter, had I not been caught in the jaws of the current recession and forced to look inside my soul for any positives I could find. I knew I could write ... but other than my journal and real estate contracts, I really hadn't tried anything else. So I answered this ad for a copywriter and to my complete surprise, the editor himself answered my query. He asked for a sample of my writing. Ha! I guess I could send him the last contract I drafted ... or tear out a page of my journal. Then I thought, why not write about the experience I had just had attending the Mesa Arizona Temple that morning. So I wrote the article you see posted in my blog, in one setting, and sent it in.

A few days later I get another email from the editor asking me for "ideas" I might have to contribute to his newly started magazine, "Eat Fresh AZ." He sent me to the website for a look at the first printing and to get an idea of the type of writing style it required. He asked if I had ever interviewed anyone before and if I had ever submitted any photography. Of course I said no to all of the above and then I heard nothing for a couple of weeks. I then decided to send him some article ideas, most of which were already being considered.

I happened to mention that I was headed to Yuma to do a construction draw inspection on a hotel for an out of state bank and I wondered if he had any ideas for an article in Yuma. That struck a chord ... as he grew up in Yuma and had wanted to do an article on Yuma Lettuce Days. I said I would drive out to Yuma, interview the sponsoring entity and write an article with photos. Talk about walking in the dark.

So I went to Yuma, found the sponsoring entity, interviewed them, took a few shots of lettuce fields ... and headed home. My daughter in law Jackie Malone is a photography stud-ette and she came over to assist in a raw lettuce "photo shoot."

I wrote the article, added the interviews, and photos of the lettuce close-up, taken in our kitchen and sent it in. A few days later, the editor emailed me with a few style suggestions and asked me to tighten it up a bit. I'm still learning the lingo here. So I still don't know, at this point, if he was going to use the article or not, until the magazine proof goes to the printer. It contains on the front page of the Winter edition ... OUR PHOTO and the cover article on Yuma Lettuce Days. Only they changed the title from "Lettuce Entertain You" (which I thought was way superior) to "A Head of the Curve" (???huh?). Anyway, editor rules.

I couldn't download the article onto this post (still learning how to open a PDF file and download it) so you'll have to go to the magazine website to see the article in all its color and photography, which, for the most part I got from the Yuma Lettuce Days archives... other than the cover photo, of course.

Other than the editor stiffed me when I tried to collect my promised $0.25 cents per word fee ... it was a great experience. The fact that I didn't get paid for my work and that the editor proved to be a flake, doesn't take away the fact that I did accomplish another FIRST in a string of other FIRSTS... like running a marathon (a story for another post). Whether or not I will pursue a second attempt at finding a legitimate opportunity, remains to be seen. But the thrill of not only being published but having your photography on the cover ... the very FIRST attempt, is way cool. Of course I have since sent some articles into the Ensign Magazine, only to receive my FIRST rejection letter. Ok, so they don't know who I am at the Ensign ... I used my writing name "WritRat." HaHa... I will have to direct them to my published article in the "Eat Fresh AZ" magazine. I would send them one but I couldn't even find out where the magazine is being distributed, to obtain a copy. I had to print a copy off the website for my own file. Is this a funny ending ... or the beginning of a fun hobby? I guess time will tell one or the other.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


I awoke with a start! A quick glance at the clock and relief replaced the fear that I had overslept. It was 4am. I am going to the Temple.

“I have time,” I mused. I could lay there and enjoy teasing myself with how far back into slumber I dared go … only to be jarred back to life when the sounds of KTAR 92.3 fill the room. No, it wasn’t worth the risk of waking my wife. I’m up!
As I leave the house dressed in white shirt and tie, the sweet smell of dew arouses my senses. I think “sweet!”

Five minutes later, I take my place in line to enter the freeway. My pulse quickens just a little. I glance at the cars speeding ahead and wonder why so many people are up at this hour of the morning, already dressed, breakfast in hand (or cup), listening to the traffic report giving time-saving instructions every hour on the “9’s.”

I think ahead, reminding myself not to get lost in my thoughts and miss the freeway exit … a costly mistake when you drained every drop of extra time out of the snooze alarm. But this morning was different. I beat the alarm; a trophy day already. I am going to the temple.

For Latter Day Saint members, going to the temple means service, sacrifice, and fulfillment. It is service and sacrifice that brings fulfillment, and it is voluntary.

Hundreds will visit the LDS Temple and its grounds in Mesa, Arizona, today. Some will come as visitors and curiously wander into the Visitors Center located adjacent to the temple, where the purpose of life is explored and presented in audio and visual form. Questions are answered here, connections with a spiritual self are often made, and no one leaves without feeling just a little better.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or more commonly known as the “Mormons,” or “LDS,” has owned and operated this sacred edifice, the Mesa Arizona Temple, since its dedication in 1927. It stands today as a “light unto the world,” for it represents a place of holiness and peace apart from the world as we know it. As in the days of ancient Israel, where its people worshiped regularly in the synagogues, but reserved the performance of more sacred ordinances for the temple, Latter-Day Saints also embrace the temple as the house of the Lord, a place of sanctity.

I arrive at the temple at just after 5am. The sweetness of the morning fills my lungs as I breathe deeply to soak in as much as I can before the hot desert sun wakes with a vengeance and strips the desert air of any hint of coolness.

I love to walk the temple grounds and smell the fresh citrus blossoms that announce the beginning of spring. On this day (October 10,2008), however, fall is in the air ever-so-lightly, but it is there, nonetheless. Fall and winter flowers have been planted, still in their infancy, yet radiate so much potential. They adorn the House of the Lord, as if they knew.

As I climb the steps to the temple entrance, I pause for a moment and listen. The sounds of the world are so loud, even at daybreak. Rarely do we get to meditate in solitude anymore. There is always sound, even the sound of a fan at night, white noise, I believe they call it. Inside the temple, people use their “temple voice” when they must talk; otherwise, they just listen. It is a time of re-connection, re-dedication, a time to focus on the family and its eternal nature; a time to shut out the noise of the world and leave behind those cares that seem to mean so much during our mortal stay, but are quickly shed once we are called back to that home before this.

All too soon, I will be returning through the same doors that carried me in, my service complete for a time. Yet, I know I will return a better man for having attended a temple of our Lord.

Friday, August 28, 2009


My "Quest" the last 10 years has been to provide SOLUTIONS for PROPERTY OWNERS who have property to DEVELOP but lack the time or expertise to do it on their own.

I started developing gas stations in 1986, just as the "convenience market industry" was being born. The majority of those 30 or so stations were a result of a changing market and reflected an attempt by the owner to "do something different" and to create their own brand.

Most of those stations became "Star Marts" in 1990, and are branded Shell today, with the merger of Texaco and Shell a few years ago.
[FIRST PHOTO] Just after the turn of the new century, I was fortunate enough to be involved in my first retail center, located in Mesa at the NWC of Baseline and Power Roads. You know it as the Honey Baked Ham store, or where the best fish tacos can be eaten, at Rubios.
[SECOND PHOTO] I then had the opportunity to help develop a beautiful gas station amidst the tall pines and San Francisco Mountains as a backdrop, in Flagstaff, AZ. This project was loaded with "mines" such as special interest groups and pouring cement in the dead of winter ... but we got it done and it still looks beautiful even today.
[THIRD PHOTO] The next photo was a real stretch. In 2003, the intersection of Hwy 260 and I-17 [Cottonwood side] was just dirt and an old Chevron gas station. A developer siezed an opportunity when the State widened Hwy 260 into Cottonwood and needed some dirt. Well, he had mountains of it ... and thus began the nesting place for the Verde Travel Center, located in Camp Verde, AZ. The owners wanted to preserve the Native American influence that is predominant in the area, so after extensive research and many different designs, a 12,000 square foot building was designed around a gas station, c-store, trading post, and Wendy's Hamburger franchise. There were many issues to overcome, public sentiment to win over, and utilities to bring from afar. But when I still get phone calls today, telling me how beautiful the architecture is and how clean the grounds are and so well maintained, I tend to forget the many hours of focus it took to produce such a jewel in the high desert.

The Upper Village of Moenkopi is one of the first Villages within the Hopi Nation to develop and own a project that will be staffed predominately with Native Americans living in the general vicinity of Tuba City, AZ. This project would not have been even dared if it were not for dedicated individuals such as the CEO and President of Moenkopi Developers, Daniel Honahni and other Village Board Members. These individuals had a dream of self reliance apart from the mother ship, and I watched them overcome hurdle after hurdle to achieve their dream of independence. How grateful I am to have been given the opportunity to direct the team that designed and constructed this beautiful structure. The inspiration for this project came, I believe, from my project in Camp Verde (Photo #3), for it was after seeing this facility that they contacted me about doing the same type development on their property.
When I first set foot on the parcel, I had already put into motion my team ... and then found out the site was only 2 acres in it's present state, and it needed to be 4 acres. Now that should have scared me away, but it didn't. We just moved ahead and transported over 2 acres of import ... where at one point is 16 feet high from the original base.
The facility has a Smoke Shop, Convenience Store, Gas Station, Car Wash, RV Dump, Artisian Booths for locals to show and sell their crafts, a Cafe specializing in local fare, and a Taco Del Mar, mexican food franchise. The entry to the food and artisian court showcases an amazing engineering spectacle of wood and beam. You must put Tuba City on your "places to visit" list, just to see the woodcraft in this building ... and of course take a break or even stay in the new Moenkopi Inn next door.
I will provide links to these places, once I learn "how" to do so.
I do enjoy PROVIDING SOLUTIONS to whatever needs you might have. I will post at a later date my foree into the Self Storage market... but off to spend some time with the grandkids at Pizza Piper :>)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Life at Woodland Lake

Woodland Lake, located in Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ, is a little slice of Heaven. Linda and I were both raised in Northern Arizona and have a special place in our hearts for such beauty. If you want a place to stretch your legs or work up a sweat, you can do both by walking the path around the Lake. Just watch out for the serious joggers. Yes, you can take your 4-legged companion as well and both get a good workout. Just be sure your companion is on a leash (the 4-legged companion, that is).
I love Woodland Lake in the morning ... or in the late afternoon ... but either time, you are sure to be treated to some great photo opps. It's a place where amateur photographers, like myself, can just about point and shoot ... and turn out something as beautiful as this. Put a yellow mat around this and watch the colors jump out at you. You can get to Woodland Lake by taking Woodland Road off the main drag between Lakeside and Pinetop. Or take the road by the Chevron station in Pinetop and it takes you right there (Can you tell I'm from a small town where directions given are structures and not street names? I still do not know the street names in Happy Holbrook).


Linda and I were headed to Lakeside (2005) to load up our furniture and transport back to Phoenix. It was about 6pm, we were listening to satellite radio's Fibber Magee and Molly, when an explosion stunned me into seeing everything move in slow motion. I saw the brown blur just at impact, but I also saw chards of glass-like dust moving in slow motion. While cruising at 62 mph, the truck had hit a trophy bull elk head on and the truck never left the road. It didn't fishtail, or roll, or even go sideways. It just coasted to the side of the road and stopped, as if it was on automatic pilot.

Upon impact, the bull elk staggered a few feet and then fell dead on the side of the road. People traveling behind us gasped in horror as the scene unfolded. They expected to find us dead and buried after that impact, but inside the cab, it was the most peaceful feeling ... as if we were in a protective cucoon. Both Linda and I had the same peaceful feeling, as we compared our thoughts later. Neither of us felt any fear, or pain ... nary a broken bone. Except for some blood oozing out my arms and neck from the flying chards of glass, we were not harmed at all. We can only give thanks to our Heavenly Father for tender mercies shown on our behalf. It was indeed a miracle and one that we shall be eternally grateful for.

Once the realization that we had hit something broke through the clouds, all I could do was sit there. Linda said I was mumbling "I love my truck," but I think she heard wrong. Well... maybe not. I did love that truck. But only after I checked to see if my wife was ok :>) People stopped immediately and came to offer help. A nurse just coming home from her shift was there in a moment. She checked Linda and then me ... and said "I can't believe you aren't hurt."
A forest ranger was next on the scene to tell me what I had hit and that it was mine if I wanted it. Linda got out of the truck and started taking photos for insurance purposes. I stayed right behind the wheel. I just couldn't move. I guess I was processing what had just happened. Then, the highway patrolman arrived. He came over and noticed my air bag had not deployed and gently remarked that if that bag goes off while I am behind the wheel, I could be injured. That got my wheels moving and I quickly rolled to the passenger side of the truck and made my exit. That is when I got the full impact of just how miraculous this was. There, laying on his side, was the largest bull elk I had ever seen.
The forest ranger started on me again, wanting to know if I wanted the elk and if so, I needed to arrange to have it transported somewhere. Now remember, I had just taken the life of this majestic animal in an unfair fight ... and this dude is pressing me for an answer. Of course I didn't want it. Who would want to be reminded every time he entered a room that his truck had taken a life? Not me. So I said give the meat to the poor and I don't care what you do with the rest of it. Then someone came up to me and started razzing me for giving it away. "Don't you know what this thing is worth." he said. "It's a trophy elk and those antlers are worth some money, let alone the meat." I told him to bug off, but I did go over to the ranger, as he was loading (or trying to load) the carcass into the bed of his truck, and asked, if I wanted to keep the elk how would I get it processed ... and he just about handcuffed me right there for even "thinking" about it once I told him I didn't want it. Gee whiz, I was only asking.
Anyway, there we were by the side of the road ... alone and no one to call but our Realtor in Lakeside. He didn't even think twice when I called him and he drove out to get us, which by then, was quite late at night. Thanks Neal Thompson. He loaded us into his SUV, with glass and blood ... and transported us to Lakeside. We refused to go in the ambulance and probably should have stopped off at the emergency room in Show Low, but we just wanted to get back to our little home and get some rest. Our kids came up the next day and helped us load everything into a U-haul and by 6pm Saturday night, we were headed back to the Valley. And yes, I was driving and yes, I was quite nervous driving in the forest after that, and even now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First Blog - First Posting

At the insistance of my blogging friends and family, I have decided to join the 21st century and create my very own blog. My daughter Shelly said it would only take 5 minutes to set up. I was stopped for 1/2 hour at the very first question (other than what is your name). I decided to name my blog Quest Driven because that seems to define my actions in the past and no doubt the future. It seems I am always on a quest for something. Never quite satisfied once I get there. But my goal with this blog is to add something of value that others might benefit from. I have never been bashful about using my own mistakes when teaching life's lessons. I hope to use this blog as a platform to express my views and possibly expose some hidden talent for writing and photography. I might even add some value once in a while. But mostly, my blog will be an outlet for my self expression and for sharing my quest with anyone who might share my interests.
Love to all ...