For the Love of Volunteering

Guest Post by Sandra Kowalski

My mother always said, “Give what you possess.” When is the last time you offered your time and talents without pay?

As a new volunteer docent at the Sedona Heritage Museum and someone who has the gift of gab (I’ve been told), I have come to believe that the pleasure is all mine.

Here are my six top reasons for feeling this way:

  1. The Museum attracts visitors from all over the world, and while on duty I have met folks from Russia, South Korea, France, Singapore, and throughout the USA. It’s fun seeing the close attention these visitors pay to our local history, and answering their questions about how the pioneer families lived. There’s something special about representing Sedona in this way.
  2. I get to experience visitors’ joy when they are reminded of childhood experiences. Comments like, “This is just like my grandparent’s house!” or “My grandfather owned a tractor like that one,” are common and are usually followed by a smile brought on by good memories. Priceless!
  3. I spend time applying content learned in the American History classes of my youth. Lessons on “The Homestead Act,” “proving up,” “Civilian Conservation Corps,” “cattle drives,” “cow punching,” and “self-sufficiency” are useful to me now. Sister Marietta would be proud.
  4. I have fun learning about practical items and terms which I can explain to visitors (not to mention family and friends), like “smudge pot” (not the eye shadow!), “cooling cabinet,” “tent cabin,” “apple sorter,” and “waterwheel.” Did I mention “docent?”
  5. Opportunities for me to participate in fun events abound: interviewing artist Claudia Cooke at the annual Arts & Crafts Fair, “Mondays at the Museum” workshops and demos, Mike Peach’s cowboy humor shows, and the wildly popular tours of pioneer homesteads in Oak Creek Canyon and Red Rock seem to bring out the best in me.
  6. Last, but certainly not least, I enjoy working with the other volunteers and staff who all contribute to making the Sedona Heritage Museum one of the “top things to do” in Sedona. Docents with whom I’ve worked, like Kate, Joan, Susan, Terry, Loretta, Clancy, Valerie, and Linda, and others who foster projects and events, like Janeen, Lisa, Nicole, Ron, and Paul-to name a few- all give of themselves and have assisted in training me so that everyone who visits has the best experience possible. They are a bunch of fun people, and we enjoy lots of food and laughs together. They can become your friends too!

If you would like to volunteer and have fun at the same time, stop by and visit us. Learn about the range of opportunities that exist for someone with talents like yours.

See my interview below with local artist, Claudia Cooke:

Fellow volunteers, what are some of your top reasons for volunteering?

The Day I Ruined Christmas

Guest Post by Ginger
We all have special memories of Christmas past; some good, some not so good.  Sitting around the kitchen table at the Museum last week, this topic came up as it is nearing Christmas.  I will share one of my not so good memories… the day I ruined Christmas for my brother John and myself.

I was probably about twelve and John, being five years younger, was probably about seven.  I remember this pre-Christmas day vividly because it was my brilliant idea to discover where our mother was hiding our presents. John, of course, went along and thought this was the best idea he had ever heard; and we both just couldn’t wait for the big day to know what we were getting.

Our chance came one day when mother announced she had errands to run and we two were to stay inside and entertain ourselves while she was out.  We, looked at each other, and said “no problem”.  As soon as mother was out of sight we started searching the house for the presents we were sure were  hidden somewhere.  We looked in the kitchen cabinets, got the step ladder and looked in the upper cabinets; behind all the furniture and even tackled the basement.  This was no small job because our basement was stuffed with all kinds of things, including cardboard boxes that mother saved “just in case she might need one to mail something”. No luck anywhere downstairs we could think of.  So upstairs we went, looked under all the beds; in all the bathroom cabinets; opened every single drawer in each bedroom – no luck.  Then we tried the closets, which were also stuffed full of clothing and loads and piles of other things.  We even dumped out the dirty clothes bin, but no luck.

Lastly we tried our mother’s closet, but there were a couple of high shelves we could not reach, so downstairs I went and came up with the stepladder which I wedged inside the closet.  All this while my brother was keeping a look out the front upstairs windows in case our mother was returning.  I climbed up and shouted ” Hooray!” – pushed way to the back were wrapped presents which I handed down to John. We began to carefully remove the bows and ribbons and scotch tape to take a peek inside.  We knew we should not be doing this, but it was sooooo  exciting!

Eventually John and I opened each and every package with our names on, looked at the gift, and then carefully rewrapped, re-bowed and returned the boxes exactly where they had been hidden.  Smug is how we felt!  Mother never knew.

Christmas Day arrived and we saw all those familiar boxes under the Christmas tree, ready to unwrap.  John and I just looked at each other with guilt as the unwrapping began.  That Christmasmorning I was feeling a strange sadness, knowing exactly what was in each gaily wrapped package with my name on….but I didn’t let on.  The JOY of discovering what was inside our presents just wasn’t there that year.

I ruined our Christmas that year by being sneaky.

Never, ever, again have I been tempted to look inside a wrapped present before the proper time.  I do not even shake a gift to try to figure out what is inside the wrapping, because I want to be surprised and joyful.

Have you ever “taken a peek” at your Christmas presents?

Katie Coyote

On Wednesday the number of human visitors to the museum left a lot to be desired. But then we certainly enjoyed the presence of the animal visitors.

Just out of the kitchen window, between the building and driveway, we were treated to a show by Katie Coyote. I call her that because in her gyrations we could see female parts, but no male parts. Katie was probably an adolescent…not a pup, and certainly not an adult.

Katie Coyote

She rolled on her back and on her stomach, kicking her legs up into the air. She tossed one of the fallen apples around as though it were a miniature tennis ball. She was having a lot of fun, all by herself. Coyotes are solitary creatures; they don’t run in packs, although they will communicate by calling to each other at night. But except for mating purposes (and moms with pups) they don’t seem to hang out together. And Katie was showing that she could have a lot of fun by herself.

Katie Coyote

In fact, after about 15 minutes a City truck drove up the driveway. Katie stood up and faced the truck down. The truck driver stopped his vehicle. It was a stare down. Finally, she ambled off across the front of the museum, and took off toward the wooded area in the hills. Katie had her fun, out stared a truck, and she provided a ton of entertainment to us inside the museum.

Peach Blossoms

You Sure Those are Edible?

Getting back to nature took a whole new meaning recently when I found I needed to make a birthday cake and decorate it with only a couple hours notice.

The situation was that my husband found out at the last minute that a friend and neighbor was going to celebrate his 80th birthday the next day and he had no plans to celebrate.  Well, this was just not right!  Even though we had plans to be gone the next day, we invited our friend and his wife for dinner the next night.  In the morning we threw a roast and potatoes into the crock pot and ran off to our obligations.  When I got home a couple hours before our impromptu dinner party, I whipped up a chocolate “Crazy Cake”. Called that because only a few ingredients that go right into the baking pan – stir – and bake.  Cream cheese frosting was quick, easy and no-fail (my favorite kind).  When the cake had cooled enough to frost I did a quick job, but realized it was pretty plain. What to do?!  I don’t have cake decorating skills to make fancy trim and décor, especially on the fly.

Then, I remembered that all the fruit trees were blooming at the Museum.  The local newspaper had just sent their photographer up to take some photos and people had been posing all week in the Museum’s orchard for colorful photo memories.  Ah ha!  I ran to the computer to confirm that peach blossoms are edible.  Yes, it said – and the internet is always right, right?

So, to the orchard I ran and snipped some of the delicate white and pink blossoms.  The branches are actually fairly covered with these little, delicate individual blooms – one every place a peach will grow.  I took about 4 dozen of the little blossoms and arranged them around the base and across the top of the cake on a pretty cake pedestal.  A little coconut dyed green with food coloring made for a colorful base on the cake plate so the blossoms looked like they were lying in grass.  Eight candles, one for each decade of his life, finished this super quick birthday cake.

Peach Blossom Cake

We all ate the little blooms as we ate our cake and we all survived, so I can say that peach blossoms ARE edible.  Our friend said he couldn’t wait for his 90th birthday, as long as I made the same cake!