Brad Jarvis – Movers & Shapers

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Brad Jarvis, an “business incubator” in St. Johns

ST. JOHNS – “I love St. Johns,” said Brad Jarvis. “It has been good to me and my family.”

A third generation St. Johns’ son, Jarvis grew up in St. Johns. His father was the elementary school teacher and his mother was a a stay-at-home-mom.

Like many kids who grow up in small towns, when they graduate high school, they head off to college, go to work in a big city, get married, and have children.

It is almost the American Dream, but absence often does make the heart grow fonder, and once those from rural small town America get to the family stage, they yearn for their roots, or a place like it. They want to raise their children like they were raised.

Such is the story of Brad Jarvis.

With an entrepreneurial spirit embedded in him at an early age, Jarvis said, “I never knew what I wanted to be. I just knew I wanted to work for myself. You can either make yourself do the hard things so someone else makes the money, or you can do the hard things for yourself. Either way, you are going to do them.”

After attending Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher where he met Shauna Lee Flake, they got married and began their lives in the Valley. Jarvis was on his way to becoming an Investment Manager.

Jarvis went into the water and ice and ice cream business in Chandler and, though he says it was scarey going back to where you were raised, the family chose to make the transition to St. Johns.

In 2003 Jarvis bought St. Johns Ice Company, developed it and sold it in 2008.

In 2009 he partnered with Claryce and Karson Crosky, and they built the Gas-N-Go, a 24 hour gas and convenience store, anchored by an El Cupidos Express on W. Cleveland.

Jarvis and the Croskys had grown up together in St. Johns. Neither had ever been in a partnership with anyone, but they found themselves a perfect fit to do business together. The Croskys were a little younger than he and Shauna Lee, but they discovered they were a good fit.

“We both have things that complement each other,” said Jarvis. “One party does not work less than someone else. Neither of us thinks we are entitled. They like to work behind the scenes.”

Their partnership has proven successful, such that they joined forces again in October of last year to buy the Whiting Quick Stop, implementing changes for the better right away.

They had hoped to find someone to lease the kitchen at Whitings where there had been just pizza. Within a month, they opened the grill as Whitings Quick Stop Burger Generation with a menu that offers items not already found in the area. Justin Weller, a former Apache County Deputy Sheriff, designed the menu which encompasses fried chicken, gourmet hot dogs, tilipia, and even an eight ounce steak. Where there was only takeout before, customers now have a choice. Jarvis brought in six tables and 24 chairs to accommodate the customers.

Plans are already on the drawing board for more upgrades at the Quick Stop.

Jarvis says he is always either, “Working on work, or thinking about working on some new scheme.”

In fact when he sold the ice company and the cost of ice went up, Jarvis crushed his own, bagged it and sold it to his customers as a perk for only a dollar.

In 2007 when Mahai Burlea, the first Romanian to get a baseball scholarship, came to Eastern Arizona College, he dated a girl from St. Johns. Burlea worked for Jarvis’ ice company, and through that relationship, Jarvis made his way to Romania and wound up owning a metal fabrication company. He partnered with an Italian who is now Burlea’s brother in law.

“Business under communism is different,” said Jarvis. “It is more of a social experiment. I kind of like the idea of knowing guys are working while I am sleeping, and then I am working while they are sleeping. It is like work is going on 24 hours a day.”

“The business takes care of itself. This year I am looking at importing over here.”

Jarvis has been to Romania several times on behalf of the business, and for pleasure. He loves the castles and history of the Turks and Romans. He has been in Dracula’s castle and likes the smaller castles. He described the feeling of despair one feels as they go down into the dungeons. He loves the salt mines, the old weaponry and the monasteries of the 14th Century with their beautiful mosaics on the wall. He marvels at how through the wars they remain untouched.

On the local level, Jarvis, like most of the folks in St. Johns, dabbles a bit in farming. He has 20 acres grows alfalfa, has cows and chickens and tractors, and calls it fun.

He and Shauna have six kids, four girls and two boys. The kids are learning about work and small town life from their parents.

The kids do not just go in and get something when they go in to either of the businesses.

“If they want something, they can work for it,” said Jarvis. “They learn to work here. If they come in, they have to pay like everybody else for what they want.”

Mom is also a good example. Not only is Shauna Lee a crafter, but she is known all around for her baking skills. Every other day she makes batches of oatmeal with craisins, cowboy, peanut butter, old fashioned molasses, pudding cookies with M&Ms, and “Cracked Sugar Cookies” for both the Gas-n-Go and the Quick Stop. One cookie is about the size of three regular cookies.

It is said around St. Johns that the guys from Navopache Electric are addicted to those “Crack Sugar Cookies.” They refer to them as just “crack cookies” because they are so addictive. If they go and they have run out of the cookies, there is trouble.

Jarvis is well aware the City of St. Johns depends on the power plant, the government and schools for jobs to survive. The population of St. Johns is 3800.

“I have seen people struggle and have ideas that did not work, and I have seen people come and go.”

“You have to know your area and your customers. We have not re-invented the wheel.”

“We do not sell alcohol, tobacco or lottery tickets in our stores, and we shut down on Sundays. The people appreciate it.”

Jarvis welcomes competition. “It makes you stronger, makes for a better community,” said Jarvis.

“If someone else comes in, it just makes me be aware of what I should be doing.”

Though Jarvis will no doubt be thinking of new ways of branching out to make his home-town better for his family, and his neighbors, or anyone passing through, Jarvis’ goal is to “get our kids grown.”

Brad and Shauna Jarvis came back to the right place to do that.

St. Johns is billed at the Town of Friendly Neighbors, a Close Knit, Family First Community.

Living his dream of working for himself, and making a difference in his community for his family and the people who live there, or just pass through, Brad Jarvis has attained success in small town America. Brad Jarvis is a “Mover & Shaper.”

Movers & Shapers – The El Rio Theater

Ginger Harding El Rio Theater     El Rio Theater, Spvl

“PreServing popcorn, soda, candy and a movie on a single screen”

SPRINGERVILLE – In February 2014 Ginger and Allen Harding came to check on their house in Alpine. Allen noticed that Sam Madariaga, owner of El Rio Theater in Springerville, had died. Wondering what would now happen to the historic community theater, Allen inquired and discovered it was for sale. After meeting with Kirk Madariaga, Sam’s son, they set about to do their due diligence.

They knew 35 mm was soon to be obsolete, and an almost 100 year old building probably needed upgrades which an inspection would reveal.

They had made a plan years before to retire in Alpine, and they knew, active people they are, they would like to have a business there. They decided this would be that business.

With Allen committed to a contract with his employer, the decision was made for Ginger to be the on-site person. She would live in their retirement home in Alpine and they toggle between their two worlds until Allen retired.

“We wanted to rescue and resuscitate a really important fixture in the community,” said Ginger. “We love serving the community and the families who live here. Many of the adults have gone to this theater since they were little children, or worked here.”

Word spread quickly that someone was going to “save the theater.”

When Ginger first arrived on scene and was actively renovating the theater, she frequented True Value Hardware, often in her “grubbies,” not her normal attire. She introduced herself to owner Deanna Davis and explained she and her husband had purchased the theater and were renovating it. Showing gratitude that would be echoed by the community, in typical Springerville fashion, Deanna asked if she could give Ginger a hug. That hug had meaning. Deanna proves it weekly as she and a host of her employees spend Saturday nights at this theater.

“When we have a family movie, we do an extra show on Friday afternoon with special pricing, and then show it again on Monday,” said Ginger. “It feels good to see two or three generations of a family going out of the movie holding hands.”

“We decided to keep the prices the same as the previous owner,” $6 for adults, $5 for students, and we added military and first responders to this group. It is $3 for children. We also kept the concessions the same prices, Popcorn for $2, $3 and $4, sodas for $2 and $3, and candy for $3.

“The 1946 Manley popcorn machine, which had not been used for quite a while, is being rebuilt in Florida. We want to keep the historic feel, the nostalgia.”

With El Rio being the oldest theater in the State of Arizona, now 101 years old, the Hardings joined the League of Historic American Theaters.

While attending a conference of the group in Colorado, they found themselves in the minority with regard to ownership. Most historic theaters are now run by non-profits. When a question regarding community data base came up, Ginger realized she was that person and needed to add that to her role.

Though Ginger is the mainstay at El Rio for now, when Allen comes up, he loves to do the ticket booth. Though still working, he has played an active part in the remodeling.

Spending time alone in Alpine now, Ginger finds plenty to do. Choosing not to have TV in Alpine or at the theater, her love of reading fills some of that time. Ginger easily has six to eight books going at once.

She has also joined the chamber of commerce and the VFW Ladies’ Auxiliary Post 9897.

“Running a theater, you don’t get to participate in many community events,” said Ginger.

There are two holidays, however, she will not miss, the Fourth of July and Veteran’s Day Parades. With her own bright purple 1964 Chevy pickup, sporting glasspacks, she dons the car with movie stickers and is a regular entry.

Ginger belongs to the Alpine Community Church and on Sundays after church she heads to either the VFW or Trailriders Restaurant. Ordering her usual tacos and tea and prepares to enjoy some football. Not your average female football fan, Ginger knows the game, and doesn’t really care who is playing. She just wants to watch some football, even if it is only one quarter before she heads to open the theater.

Her younger brother played Pop Warner and she was his statistician. That is where she developed her love for the game.

Ginger and Allen are native Arizonans. They did not arbitrarily choose Alpine for retirement. They lived in Alpine over 20 years ago as on-site managers for Tal Wi Wi Lodge, owned by Allen’s parents. As managers they were 24/7, doing everything. When their first born was on the way, they transitioned back to the Valley for a lifestyle more conducive for family, but always knew they would return to Alpine.

Ginger graduated from Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix, went on to Business College and ASU. She was Political Science major, looking at law school, which is where she and Allen met. He was also a Poli-Sci major. Though they changed their minds about law school, they didn’t change their minds about each other. This November they will be married 28 years.

They have one son, Alexander, who currently works at Grand Canyon University, who, like his father has earned two degrees. Their daughter, Nicole, is a nurse who works with autistic children and adults.

Ginger has been successful in several fields. She ran a surgeon’s practice, worked as a paralegal for 20 years for government agencies including the attorney general and the Maricopa County legal defender. Since 2008 she has served as liaison for Phoenix Community Women. She was also a sales director for Mary Kay, and yes, she earned a car, but not the pink one. Added to that list now is theater owner and operator.

Ginger describes herself as a recovering feminist. Today she believes there is an order to things.

“We all have our jobs,” she said.

Ginger has no bucket list.

“I have been so blessed and have had so many crazy adventures,” she said. “I traveled with the city council to the USS Phoenix Nuclear Submarine for one its final voyages when it was docked in Florida. I have done glider planes, parasailed in Mexico with my baby brother.”

“Thanks to my hard working husband and his career, I have been to Sweden, Montreal, and Italy. On our 25th Wedding Anniversary, we went to London, and I spent a day in the British Library. We took a shuttle to Paris. I took French in high school and got to spend time with a French family. On one of my birthdays, my husband took me on a Route 66 trip where we stopped at all the little places along the way. My husband is a Renaissance man. His depth and breadth are unmeasurable.”

Not bad for a woman who in second grade was told by her teacher that she could be the first female President of the United States. She never forgot that.

Though her goal never to be the first female President, Ginger has obviously been first in many other things, and she is not done.

The 101 year old El Rio Theater in Springerville, purchased by two driven people who realize the value of history and community, not only want to continue that tradition, but add to it. They love the community and its people.

“People just drive through here on the way to somewhere else,” said Ginger. “They don’t know the people and what we have here in this community. I would like it be more of a destination to here, than through here.”

One thing Ginger would love, and it is not really for herself, but for posterity’s sake, is to locate photographs and information about El Rio. What little information they have found is on the website. Her deepest desire is for people who may have something to add will come and share it so it will be available for everyone as a part of El Rio’s history.

In a theater where people say John Wayne, a night owl by nature, sat and watched movies until the wee hours of the morning, there surely is more to tell. Since the walls cannot talk, perhaps some of the movie-goers will.

As caretakers of Arizona’s oldest movie theater, Ginger and Allen Harding have preserved memories for Round Valley and for Arizona. They have also made it possible for new memories to be made for generations to come.

Visa Credit Card founder and CEO Dee Hock said, “Success follows those adept at preserving the substance of the past by clothing it in the forms of the future.”

Thus it is with Ginger and Allen Harding, added now to the list of Apache and Navajo County “Movers & Shapers.”

Movers & Shapers – John & Diane Hendrix

M&S John & Diane

John & Diane’s Painting, painting the picture of life in Heber-Overgaard|
Barbara Bruce, The Independent

Famed motivational preacher Joel Osteen always asks, “Are you living your best life now?” Most of us could not unequivocally answer “yes” to that question, but John and Diane Hendrix can.

They love where they live,what they do personally and professionally, and who they are as individuals and partners.

John and Diane Hendrix are painting contractors, owners of John & Diane’s Painting in Heber-Overgaard.

John is from Southern California, followed by a short stint in Colorado before arriving in Arizona in 1991. After high school, he painted his way through Bible college and seminary. John was from a family of evangelical preachers. He pastored one year, and then went back to painting which he has done for 37 years.

Diane is originally from Ohio, but found her way to Arizona via Pennsylvania.

John and Diane,both married before, found each other at Bethany Christian School in Tempe where she worked as the secretary. John’s son and one of Diane’s daughters were in the same class. John and Diane were both runners and began running together as friends. The rest, as they say, is history.

John has one daughter and one son, Diane has two daughters and one son, and now the Hendrixes have three grandchildren.

In the Valley they worked together as painting contractors for years. In 2006 they bought a vacation home in Overgaard. Shortly after arriving, people asked what they did for a living. They told them they were painting contractors. That got them a job and from there it snowballed. That was a sign. They sold their Valley home and have never looked back.

John and Diane employ three people, and their work ethic dictates they call people back, show up, and do a professional job. They don’t take payment up front. They do the job, take pictures of the job, and then collect, because they know their customer will be satisfied with the job they did.

It is no wonder the Hendrixes never lack for work, even in the winter.

“The last two winters, winter never showed up,”said John, “but not this year. We have lots of work waiting. We usually save the interiors for winter. It is different for paint than stain. Stain needs to be warmer, 45 to 50 degrees, and we can get something done. It may not be all day, it may just be 4 or 5 hours.”

This month they painted the Baptist church.

“Humidity is low here and paint dries very quickly,” said John, “inside.”

“Much of our business is staining and cabins need to be stained every two or three years, or at least one side. It is not a luxury, but something you have to have. It is an education process to the consumer.” “The best protection for a deck is to have a roof over it. Most people think wind or snow is what affects wood, but it is Arizona sun. If you have 10 things on the list that will affect your deck, one through nine is Sun.”

“Staining is preventative, not corrective. Once the wood is damaged, the only thing you can do is stop further damage.”

John and Diane have done their homework on stain products and found one they preferred. A little Mom & Pop business in Payson carried it for them. When the local ACE Hardware approached them and offered to stock whatever they were using, they were happy to bring that business locally.

“We have worked hard to protect our reputation,” said John. “We have done better here in our business than we did in the Valley.”

“The three guys who work for us show up early every day. Brandon calls us sometimes at 10 p.m. and tells us he has been thinking about a job and tells us what he thinks we need to do. They take ownership in the business.”

After meeting June and Jerry Call, the Hendrixes got “sucked in” with the chamber.

John says, “Sucked in, in a good way.”

The Hendrixes could not believe how much the Calls did for the community, and they wanted to help.

Jerry said the chamber was on life support, and the Calls were working tirelessly to get it back up, juggling 25 balls in the air at a time.

“Our business got going and we started spending more and more time volunteering,” said John. “You would think there would be no time for our business, but the more we gave away, the more we made. It works that way.”

“The Chamber of Commerce is a huge full time job. There is not a day we do not work there.”

The chamber only has two paid employees, the office manager and the maintenance director who handles Navajo County Park.

Jerry is vice president of the board, and he and Diane prefer a support role in helping the President. He calls himself the Joe Biden of the chamber.

John, a great photographer, recognized there was no photographic history of the area for the chamber and made that a priority. Each year he also does a one to two minute video of the past years events and embeds it on the website and puts it on YouTube. He also does Facebook. They got 40,000 hits on the website last year and have 3300 followers on Facebook.

“I am so proud to help play a role to bring credibility to Heber-Overgaard,” said John.

With work and volunteering, the Hendrixes are not neglecting themselves.

John runs 70 miles a week which equates to 15 to 20 hours. He will run his first 50 mile marathon in Sacramento in April.

“We were born to run,” said John. “Early man was either running to get food, or running not to be food.”

Diane is a cyclist, inspired by the Special Olympics Torch Run which came through Heber-Overgaard on the way to Payson. She has done three 100 mile races and rides about 150 miles a week. She has a Trek Emondo road bike which only weighs 17 pounds and she rides to Clay Springs and even Show Low. In the Winters she either uses her indoor trainer which converts her bike to stationary, or layers well and rides by herself.

“On Christmas Day we went to the Fire Department and John got the treadmill out of the exercise room and I brought my bike and trainer,” said Diane. “We exercised for three hours in concert with a movie. It was fun.”

They also bike and run with their two Australian Shepherds.

John says, “ We say exercise burns off the crazy. We feel energized.”

The Hendrixes are dedicated to whatever they set out to do. Two years ago they changed their diets, giving up all processed foods, breads and pasta. They do not do carbs.

“I cleaned out the kitchen,” said Diane.

“Our staples are now spinach, avocado, almonds and blueberries,” said John. “We like a plant based diet, but we do eat meat, steak. We burn off so many calories.”

They do have cheat days. Their favorite cheat is a hamburger, one Diane makes herself. She grinds her own meat and then grinds bacon and adds that to it.

John said, “We have eaten pizza with friends. We ate three slices and it was not that great. We felt so crummy afterward. When you eat crap you get thirsty, and your hunger is not satisfied. It is not what fuels us.”

With their new way of eating, Diane lost 40 pounds and John lost 42.

When they first started losing, they carried out 11 bags of clothes,gave them away, and bought a whole new wardrobe. They were,, a bit premature, their body weight not yet regulated to their diet and exercise regimen. When they reached their ideal, they gave the new clothes away and bought more. .

“Not many people can work together 24/7,” said John. “This is our lot in life right now. If we could do anything else, it would be more promotion for Heber-Overgaard.”

John’s video of the Hashknife Pony Express Ride through Heber-Overgaard was recruited for the Hashknife Living History website, one more opportunity to show off Heber-Overgaard..

John and Diane also wear other hats. He is on the fire board for the District, and Diane does some catering. She has everything necessary to cater an event, and has done this on the side for years. John says she is quite good at it.

Doing good has its own rewards, but it does not come without discouragement.

When things get tough, John says he remembers the words of the late Lewis Tenney, former Navajo County supervisor, leader and statesman. Tenney told both the Calls and the Hendrixes, What you are doing is making a difference. It gets discouraging, but the community needs people like you.

John said, “Lewis Tenney said this matters, and we have to stick to it.”

John and Diane Hendrix are “living their best life now,” proving once again that “the love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay; love isn’t love until you give it away.”

John and Diane Hendrix are “Movers & Shapers.”

Movers & Shapers – If the shoe fits…

TimMaryWindwalker

SNOWFLAKE — Tim and Mary Windwalker have been in business for 30 years, working together, raising a family and doing what they love in Snowflake.

“It is not work. We call it life,” Tim said.

The Windwalkers are the owners of Windwalker Fine Footwear, individually constructed works of art designed to last 10 to 20 years, and even then, they can be refurbished or repaired.

They make the shoes in their solar studio from where they can look out their window and see Mesa Redondo, Greens Peak and the Fort Apache Reservation.

When they first moved out to their 20 acres, it was nine miles of bad road with no mile markers or reflectors. Only the road to Snowflake was paved.

“The challenge here is finding a way to make a living,” Mary said. “People move out here with a pipe dream and it often goes up in smoke. We go away and take orders, come back, and we have gotten it down to a science.”

Mary hails from north of Seattle and Tim from the Chicago area. They met in Phoenix.

Prior to moving to South Phoenix, Mary learned about shoes. Mary understood the importance of feet and their connection to Mother Earth, so she made her baby’s shoes.

When people saw the shoes on her baby’s feet, they had to have them. They literally bought them off her feet.

“I knew then that shoes are the thing,” she said. “I started selling them in 1982 when I went to barter fairs.”

That was Mary’s real beginning with shoes.

After reading “The Book of Hopi,” Mary was inspired to move to Phoenix. There she worked as a midwife. She had a ‘61 GMC 70 passenger bus and a 1919 Singer sewing machine she found at a swap meet.

After leaving San Francisco where he was a drummer for a rock band, Tim made his way to Phoenix. Through a series of serendipitous occurrences, Tim found himself in Snowflake, soon to be an apprentice for the infamous Grey Wolf, who taught him how to craft the style of shoes he and Mary make today.

Both Mary and Tim apprenticed under Wolf, who was from Washington state and a graduate of University of California Davis. At his dwelling in Snowflake, Wolf had one solar panel, goats and horses. He had a converted chicken coop for his shop and a 1900-era Treadle sewing machine. Tim actually lived there while apprenticing.

Then Tim headed to Chicago in 1986. When he and Mary reunited, they started making shoes, their first in 1987.

They were discovered at the Arizona Renaissance Festival. They had done art shows but this fell in their laps. They feel such a debt of gratitude to the fairs.

“We went down three days before with $150 in our pocket. We had never been to anything like this,” Tim said.

“Everyone had elaborate booths, and we thought, ‘Oh my, we are in trouble,’ but we made it work. We sold our footwear and see people walking around with them today.”

Since that time, the Windwalkers have been in attendance every day for every show.

“We are grateful every day for Grey Wolf teaching us this style of shoes,” Tim said.

“We go to music shows, Renaissance fairs and art shows. We are sometimes gone eight weeks at a time. We are on Facebook, and we have made over 1,500 pairs of shoes. We have never run out of orders,” he added.

In their studio, there is Mary’s side and there is Tim’s side. Each have specific duties. Orders go on Mary’s side where her flow chart starts at one end and extends all the way to her window.

It takes nine to 12 months from order to delivery for a pair of Windwalkers. “Rush money” to bump up an order is not accepted.

Like they were taught by Grey Wolf, the Windwalkers use the Hank Zander method to make their cast. Zander, whose foot was mangled in a motorcycle accident, was the originator of this pattern. He had been told he would never walk again but refused to accept it. He figured out how to make a pattern with duct tape for shoes to support his foot and ankle, so he could walk again.

The process begins when the customer place their foot on a white cloth where it’s outlined. Next, a sock is put on and a duct tape cast is made around the foot and calf.

When getting fitted, “everybody says something about their feet,” Tim said. “We don’t care. We are just there to intro our boots.”

After the taping is complete, the cast is cut off on one side. Then the customer picks out their material, colors and tread. Many people already know the design they want, but they can actually think about it while they wait for their number to be called.

When it is time to begin, Mary says it is a normal occurrence that when she thinks of that customer, they call her. Mary has learned over the years that she will get some kind of intuitive spark about the person that reveals to her what she needs to proceed. It kind of “seals” that shoe to the person’s spirit, and the shoe and the person become one.

“Feet are powerful,” Mary said.

Their shoes start around $300 and go upwards, depending on what the customer wants.

Their mission statement is: “We make every pair by hand. We try to make each pair stronger than the last.”

One of their claims to fame is making a pair of shoes for folksinger Arlo Guthrie. As to other VIP owners of their footwear, they always tell a customer, “It is you.”

Mary recalls an order over a decade and a half ago that stood out for her. An entertainer known as Moonie the Magnificent had a 5-year-old daughter who died of cancer. Moonie sent Mary the last art work she had done and asked if it could be put on a pair of boots. Mary traced and cut out her footprint and put it on the boots and then followed the scrawl of her handwriting which she had stitched onto the boots.

“Feet are power points” Mary noted.

Tim also recalls an order that stood out for him. There was a man in Chicago who had a knack for making money. He bought, refinished and sold carousel horses. He had two or three pair of outlandish boots from the Windwalkers. When he died, his wife had the boots recut and refitted for their two daughters.

Making a living doing what they love, the Windwalkers have managed to put five daughters through college.

When at home, the Windwalkers do not talk about work. They even share the same cell phone

They are involved in their community. They come together for births and deaths, marriages, gardening and potlucks. They help build homes and get together to learn things to better their lives and the lives of everyone around them. They ski and they hike.

Their business rallies behind one local cause, builder Steve Johnston’s Disc Golf Competition in Concho each year. Their logo is on the disc.

They are the flower children who really embrace peace and love and responsibility for a better planet. They don’t use credit. They use solar and the things that are good for our planet. They are successful and happy, but they have not stopped there.

After meeting a multimillionaire who took her own idea and managed to expand its reach to Wall Street, Mary asked her what business advice she could give them. The lady told her to have an exit strategy. After her success, she was bought out for a nice sum, but it was no longer her baby.

That got the Windwalkers thinking. What will they do when they get to 80? They came up with the idea of teaching others to make their footwear. They had already reached out and had apprentices who either went to work for them, or struck out on their own.

They came up with an exit strategy ‑ a school to teach others how to make their footwear. The school is in Creststone, Colo., a unique community of about 100 people. The Earth Dancer School of Shoe Making is already in existence and summons future cobblers to learn hands-on, and then test drive the shoes on the hiking trail.

They are summoning other shoemakers and their techniques to join them. Brother of local resident Dawn Marino teaches shoemaking at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and Italians in Milan. This summer he will be one of the school’s teachers. It is now a legacy.

You haven’t heard the last of Tim and Mary Windwalker. They embody what many of the baby boomers left behind. They have the simplistic lifestyle many are now seeking, and they did it one pair of artistic footwear at a time.

Christmas gift “plugged in”

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Thanksgiving ushers in the Christmas Season, “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Just like the wise men who came and brought gifts to the Christ child, so too, have we, as a Christian society, adopted the practice of giving gifts.

With all of the commercialism of the last decade, more and more people are choosing to not focus on gifts in the same traditional way. More and more posts are seen on Facebook, for example, encouraging others to do something for someone in need, rather than buy expensive gifts.

People in need are not always poor or homeless. Many times they are just regular people who have challenges that most of us do not even know about, but if we are observant, we may see a need that we can fill.

A Christmas not so long ago, someone filled a need for me “the White Mountain way.”

I had bought a house in Taylor. As is my M.O., I just got moved in and had not even unpacked when a tragedy occurred. I was walking my two dogs before heading out to an event. Unfortunately, someone’s little dog got out and came running towards me and my two large dogs. Never did it occur to me the little dog would come over to us, because of its size. Holding the leash of one of my dogs in one hand and the other leash in my other hand, as the little dog came closer, I was hurled in the air and landed hard on my back on the asphalt.

I remember the owner and her company coming over and asking me if I was alright, if I knew my name and where I lived. I responded and must have satisfied them that I was alright. One of them had gathered up my dogs for me, and stunned, I headed to my house.

I never made the event that night. I was hurting all over but, since my refrigerator had not yet arrived, I called another neighbor and asked they get me 10 pounds of ice. I took four Ibuprofen and laid on the ice, getting up only once in the middle of the night to go and get some more ice.

The next morning I could walk straight, could go down my stairs, but could not walk up the stairs without excruciating pain.

I worked in radio at that time and I had a live two hour show that afternoon, and the show must go on.

I picked up 10 more pounds of ice, took some more Ibuprofen and headed to the station to do my show. For two hours I sat on ice. After the show, I headed to acupuncture where I was treated for six hours. It turned out that I had a fractured tail bone and a concussion, and I had no insurance.

It was our busy time for holiday ads in radio and I could not stay home. I just trudged on , did what I had to do, and proceeded to try to heal.

I still needed to unpack and get my new house in order, but with my injuries, I was lucky to get to work and to take care of my dogs. Lucky I had a fenced yard, because I could not walk them.

All of my family is in Alabama and that year I knew that I would not be able to go home for Christmas, having just moved. Every night, after really long days at work, I would head home to a dark, unpacked house.

One night, while feeling all alone, and seeing Christmas lights all over, and hearing about everyone’s plans with their families for Christmas, I was feeling particularly sad at this “most wonderful time of the year.” As I turned onto my new street and headed towards my house, I felt like the character in “The Night Before Christmas,” because much to my surprise, my multi-level usually dark and empty-looking house was totally lit up with beautiful colored Christmas lights.

I sat in the driveway, mouth wide-open and eyes filled with tears. I did a double-take to make sure I was at the right house. It was beautiful, and it was actually my house.

As I headed to my backdoor, there was a note saying something to the effect that the fairies had noticed that I always come home late, and to a dark house. The note said they took it upon themselves to change that for me, and if I did not like it, I could make it known, and they would come back and take the lights down. Oh my. Of course I liked it. I loved it, and it truly filled my heart with joy. All the lights, also, upstairs, around and down, were on timers. Those fairies thought of everything.

That very moment, I felt so blessed. I knew I had moved to a special place, a place where people noticed other people and cared about them.

I wasn’t hungry or cold, or without food or funds to buy food, but I longed for traditions and memories of Christmases past. Someone had noticed and they did not even know me.

Fast forward, after Christmas, those fairies also came and took the decorations down.

We all hear about random acts of kindness, but often we don’t really know the people who perform them, but the stories we hear are inspirational.

In fact, Random Acts of Kindness is really an International non-profit organization, started in 1995 and headquartered in Denver, CO. Its purpose is to do what someone did for me with those Christmas lights. It is to inspire people to practice kindness and pass it on to others. It is supported by an endowment and they even do research on random acts of kindness and its effects.

Their research has revealed something most of us already know in our hearts. The best ways to increase our own happiness is to do things that make other people happy.

You are probably wondering at this point if I ever found out who put up those Christmas lights at my house. I did find out, and it was not fairies. It was my next door neighbor, Gina Udall, who I did not even know at that point.

Gina Udall today is a retired school teacher, and I am happy to say that now, eight years later, she is my treasured friend. Though not a member of Random Acts of Kindness in Colorado, it is her nature to do kind, nice things for others. She lives in Taylor, Arizona, and she is a real person, someone you can believe made my bleak Christmas that year so special with her simple – but grand to me – act of kindness.

Incidentally, those random acts can be performed any time.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Summer!

ThreeRights

You cannot turn left until October is more than a statement. It is a fact.

In 1994 I moved to The white mountains and each year since, the foregoing statement has become more and more of a reality.

Beginning Memorial Day weekend, the official kick-off to the summer, cars, trucks, motorcycles and RVs head to The mountain via different routes, seeking fun and cooler temperatures.

We locals know what these visitors mean to our Mountain. In fact, many people depend on summer business to make it through the winter months.

When traffic starts to mount, we have to re-adjust our lifestyles.

People who come up from other parts of the state, especially larger municipalities, have further to drive to work and are use to heavy traffic – bumper to bumper and driving fast. On The mountain we watch the speed limit. We know if we exceed the speed, we get a ticket. We are use to 35 and 45 mph. We also do not drive bumper to bumper.

When someone from outside the area arrives, they are usually still in “go” mode. “Slow” does not usually come for them until they have been here a couple of days and experience the cooler temperatures and solace from the so-called “rat-race.” We, however, have our own “slow” and “go” mode and that’s how, as they say, “we roll.”

When someone is on our bumper we don’t like it. On the flip side, while we are going slow, those from the fast-pace world don’t like that either.

Leaving the paper on White Mountain Road and trying to turn left going toward Denny’s, we have no traffic light. To turn left is a long wait. I timed my exit to the suicide lane three different times just to have a point of reference. Each time it took me between five and seven minutes to get out of our lot. I find it the same in several other locations I frequent, and others I know validate this point from their experience.

Though the visitors and summer residents think it is cool on The mountain, it is still hot, especially to those of us who have become acclimated to The mountain.

Unless we are having monsoons, or the sun has gone down, our temperatures stay in the 90s and sometimes even reach a 100 degrees. It has already happened several times this year and it is just the beginning of July.

Add those high temps to the mix of “slow” or “go,” and you have the potential of a volatile situation.

Scientists tell us that as the temperatures rise, so do our tempers.

According to the FBI, the five U.S. Cities with the most murders and violent crime are Detroit, Michigan, New Orleans, Louisiana, Newark, New Jersey, St. Louis, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland. These five cities are “hot.” They all have high humidity combined with the high temperatures, the perfect formula for a lot of aggression out there.

Of course, extreme temperatures or humidity are not the only contributing factors to crime in these major cities, but a link between heat and aggressive behavior has been the subject of a number of studies.

One study actually shows that Americans honk their horns more when the weather is hot. There is even a scientific study attributing heat and precipitation to interpersonal and global conflict. Another has to do with being dehydrated, which many of us who came here from other places have discovered.

The point is, we love the visitors and the summer residents and how they contribute to our economy. We make many new friends during the summer months, even life-long friends. The visitors and summer residents love our laid back lifestyle and our cooler temperatures. They just get to visit, but we get to live here.

Trying to understand where another person is coming from can often eliminate a bad situation.

Since our mountain and our weather will continue to be an attractant to people from all over the state and beyond until well after Labor Day, let’s hydrate, appreciate and show our visitors that incredible “White Mountain Hospitality” we are so well known for.

And now, a tip for the locals who may not have figured it out yet, and for our visitors about “not being able to turn left until October:”

The tip, and believe me, it is easier than allowing your blood pressure to rise or worse: Turn right. Yes, turn right and go to the next place you can turn in to that has a traffic light. When the light changes, you can then go in the direction you wanted without risking the suicide land or the aggravating wait.

Now that you know the solution, write it on a post it note and put it in your car to remind yourself.

What I BELIEVE is though you cannot turn left until October, there is a solution, and summer only lasts a little while. Enjoy it!

What I Believe… CHRISTMAS!

Christmas-0515

When you ask someone what their favorite time of the year is, most often they tell you it is Christmas.

Growing up I knew it was a special time of year. It was Jesus’ birthday and though Santa Claus was the main focus for many, there was “something” in the air that trumped Santa. It was a “feeling.” We waited anxiously for the Christmas Spirit to light upon us. It never failed.

The Christmas Spirit, when it hit you, enveloped your entire being. You were in love with life. Your eyes glistened and your insides felt bathed in pure love. It never failed to happen, you just didn’t know when it would – but it was always before Christmas.

We also shopped differently back then. We saved our money to go shopping. We usually started a Christmas Savings Account right after the first of the year so that we would be ready. We paid cash. Sometimes we would put items on layaway. We didn’t have credit cards.

Since I grew up in the city, it was customary to dress up and go downtown. Generally we rode the bus or sometimes, before the shopping centers came, we would drive downtown and park in the parking deck.

All of the big department stores were decorated lavishly. The store windows beckoned you to come in. Christmas music played in the store and excitement filled the air and we loved the crowds. It was such a lovely time.

As we went from store to store, we encountered people on the street who were perched on the street hoping someone would put some coins in their cup, and there was the Salvation Army kettle. We felt so privileged to be able to give, and we didn’t have much ourselves, but didn’t know it.

The annual Christmas parade brought everyone out to see the floats and then shop. Santa arrived via the parade. There were Santas everywhere, but my Mother always took us to Loveman’s Department Store to see their Santa.

Then there was getting the Christmas tree or putting up the artificial one. Our tradition was to put it up the day after Thanksgiving.

As we shopped, we wrapped and place the hand-wrapped or store-wrapped Christmas gifts under the tree. By Christmas Day, all the bought presents, plus Santa’s delivery, were under the tree for opening.

We could hardly sleep on Christmas Eve. It was the one night, other than when we were expecting the tooth fairy or the Easter Bunny that we actually didn’t have to be made to go to bed.

The next morning we were up before the sun eagerly anticipating the opening of packages.

This was, however, not just about presents. Just as putting money in the cup for the person on the street or the kettle, my Grandmother would cook so much we would put together a tray of all of the wonderful Christmas foods to share with those who were not able to cook or have family.

Those were wonderful lessons about giving and sharing.

So why all of this this about Christmas now at the end of May? It is not even Christmas in July.

Remember how I said people say Christmas is their favorite time of the year? Remember how during the Christmas Season we say we wish this feeling could last all year long: it can.

As we deliver “random acts of kindness,” or “pay it forward,” in some way to share good, we have received, we are taking the Spirit of Christmas with us beyond its usual season.

In the Snowflake-Taylor area, the White Mountain Community Freehold has launched their “Boatload of Food Drive.” They know people give money and food for others at Christmas, but the cupboards of the food pantries still have to be filled. People need food and clothing all year long, not just at Christmas. They are extending the Spirit of Christmas.

The Faith with Action group from Grace Church seeks clothing all year long. They have extended the Spirit of Christmas.

The White Mountain Woman’s Club takes advantage of the summer months especially to raise money to help the local nonprofits. They are extending the Spirit of Christmas.

I know there are others.

You may be giving a shelter pet a forever home, paying someone’s utility bill, buying them a set of tires, paying their child’s tuition, dropping off dog or cat food to a local shelter, delivering a bag of groceries to someone who is struggling, or even leaving an envelope of money for someone whose life will be substantially change because of that gift.

These are all acts of extending the Spirit of Christmas.

Doing these things without others knowing it even make it more special. The way it makes you feel cannot be expressed in words.

I challenge each of you, as I challenge myself, to bring back the Spirit of Christmas into your lives.

Cut out the words at the top of this page and post them where you can see them and act on them.

And that thought you had at Christmas of how wonderful it would be to have Christmas all year long will actually happen.

I still have my Christmas tree up. When I feel overwhelmed by all that is pressing on me at the moment to keep up with the demands of life, I turn on the lights, and for just a few moments, I am transported back to the Christmas Season and the true meaning of Christmas.

What I BELIEVE is the Spirit of Christmas is renewed in each of us each time we do something good for another… especially when it is anonymous. Be a Secret Santa for someone and you will experience the Spirit of Christmas every time you do it.

Just saying…

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