Sunday, February 26, 2012


Sorry friends I had to take a detour to celebrate the birthdays of two of our children and Valentine’s Day, all of which occurred within the same week. That week has always been a fun and busy time for us.

No diet food on those posts. Now it’s time to get back to business.

We spent three years living in the Bunkhouse. We enjoyed being able to go out the front door and walk up the driveway to work or walk out the back door and go to the river fishing.

We were “porking up” in grand style.

During the normal day-to-day operation of our real estate business, we had many wonderful folks stop by the office to visit about real estate values. Often they were locals who had lived in Greer longer than we had who were possibly thinking of selling, or, they were complaining about their property taxes, thinking maybe we could tell them how to “fix” them.

My “pat” response was, “If you want to sell, you want your value to be as high as possible. If you want low taxes, you want your value to be as low as possible.” They nodded in agreement. It was safe to give them a range of value so they could decide what they wanted.

Most of our business was selling vacation ownership to families from the desert that wanted a summer and skiing getaway.

Every now and then, we had a visit from some local business people inquiring how they might retire and move from “the mountain”. How could they sell their business and be able to leave? Some cited health reasons while others had financial concerns.

It was common that being Greer business people meant that you had cash flow but no savings. If you owned the property and had substantial equity, selling might enable a secure retirement.

It is a well-known fact that every tourist that comes to Greer thinks that the business people who can live, work and get rich in such a beautiful, abundant place have got it made!

Having lived there for twenty-five years and owned and operated three businesses, I consider myself qualified to say that no one ever gets rich being in business in Greer, AZ.

A life rich in beauty, clean air and clear cool water? Yes, yes and yes!

In fact, most people suffer immense financial difficulty. From those who were descendants of pioneer families and were given the land to those newcomers who come with rose-colored glasses, investing every dime they have, it is common knowledge that you work 24/7/365. You always have to borrow money in the winter to survive…paying it back with summer revenue. That is, if you are fortunate to have summer revenue.

If the past few years the calamities have been numerous: drought, two major fires, floods, not enough snow and too much snow.

A pioneer spirit is mandatory and physical strength doesn’t hurt either. A common scenario for couples that own a Greer business and do manage to survive is when one person runs the business and the other secures financial stability with a paycheck by finding a job “in town”. That is, in Eagar or Springerville, the two towns that make up what is known as Round Valley, about 18 miles from Greer.

Add to those difficulties, the altitude. It is 8500 feet. A local doctor told us that if there were something wrong with you the symptoms would be exaggerated living at a high altitude. On the other hand, if there is nothing wrong with you, you will be healthier.

With that information, I’ve determined that if you are under 60 and are able to live in Greer without working, you will, most likely, live a very long and healthy life. I think youth and wealth should be added to the good doctor’s advice.

I have always said that divine intervention caused us to buy Jack and Rusty’s cabins. Sometimes we just don’t have control over our destiny.

I left the Bunkhouse early one morning for my usual walk to the end of the road and back.

That day, as always, I passed by Jack and Rusty’s cabins as I walked my normal route to the end of the road. I would pass their place again going home.

As I passed by Jack and Rusty’s on this particular day, I paused and looked their direction, admiring the wild hops growing around the front window of their home. I thought about them and their dilemma. I was sad for them that they weren’t able to do what was best for their health and well-being at this time in their lives. They had leased the cabins to a neighboring lodge so they were relieved of the responsibility of running the cabin business. But there was a certain emptiness they felt as they watched others working on their cabins, knowing that they could no longer handle the day-to-day work of the business.

No one wants constant reminders of their limitations.

I said, “God, please help me find a buyer for this property to help Jack and Rusty so that they can enjoy the rest of their lives without worry.”

I continued on my walk.

At the end of the road is Government Spring and a path that meanders along the Little Colorado River.

If you take the path south you can walk along the river forever into the forest. Go north and you end up back in the village.

After getting my usual taste of the cold water from the spring, I walked north on the path by the river to where it leads back up to the road and headed home. I called it “praying the river”. I would walk along and offer up prayers…repeating them over and over…feeling like the water would carry them to some higher place to be heard.

When I walked into the Bunkhouse I greeted Peter with a familiar phrase that he has always dreaded hearing.

 “I have an idea!”

He looked at me somewhat sternly with raised eyebrows and huge question marks in his eyes.

Looking down, I said in a soft whisper, “I think we should buy Jack and Rusty’s cabins”.

The last time I had dared to utter those words-“I have an idea”-was on a special birthday. He had asked what I would like to do to celebrate. I had said, “I think we should hike to the top of Mt. Baldy.”

He usually honored my wishes.

Jack and Rusty Wilkbank would often pop in to visit us in our real estate office on their way to the post office or the library. They had listed their cabins with another real estate company in town but always asked us why we thought that the cabins hadn’t sold.

I offered the notion that the right buyers hadn’t come along yet.

They were getting up in years and not enjoying the best of health. It was difficult for them to think of leaving as Jack had been born in Greer and he and Rusty had reared their children there.

My heart was heavy with their situation and I wished I could help.

The listing had expired with the other company and they continued to ask us if we could help. We did take them an offer, though unsuccessful, from a nice couple from Sedona. We thought that they should have taken that offer.

If they had, this would be a different story.

Every time we discussed the situation with them, Rusty would suggest that we should buy the cabins. I guess she planted the seed.

Within a month of that late summer brainstorm, we had moved into Jack and Rusty’s main house and we were the proud owners of six nightly rental cabins.

We operated that business as well as the real estate business and the gallery at our old property. We also added the Homestead and the Bunkhouse to our nightly rental inventory. We were busy!

How comforting it was to cook in the big country kitchen in our new house. I had found my perfect life!

I could see the fireplace and the television from the kitchen…two of my requirements for happiness…and I could see our guests driving up to the front door to check in.

The office where the guests checked in was a small office space just inside the front door of our home.

I could work, cook, eat, gaze at the fire, and watch Oprah all at the same time.

Peter took care of his cabin chores in the mornings and would go to the store and real estate office in the afternoons.

When he got there, I went home.

He would be home just after 5:00. I would give him a report of our guests who had arrived and he would tell me about activities at the store and real estate office.

Dieting was the last thing on our minds. We were working so hard and had to eat lots of food to keep up our strength.

I cooked and cooked and cooked. We ate and ate and ate. 

Then I bought some new clothes. Big clothes. Very loose big clothes.

My coping mechanism of denial was no longer working.

I tried getting a haircut but that didn’t help. I was still fat. Only now I was fat with short hair. Add to that I had to get stronger glasses. Good grief!

I was getting older. What, out of all of these problems, did I have control over?

My weight and my health.

I found the Atkins book of magic and read it again. It had been ten years since I had last studied Dr. Atkins’ words and practiced his program.

I was making a trip to the city to see my mother, children and grandchildren in my big loose clothes. My favorite, I remember, was a blue denim A-line dress with no waist. Frumpy to say the least.

I didn’t tell Peter that I was going to start the Atkins diet while I was gone. It’s easier to start it when you won’t be cooking and can “exercise” more will power. I do love my own cooking.

I left the Atkins book on the table beside his favorite chair.


He says now that he hadn’t read very far in the book before he decided that it was what we needed to do. He is too polite to say that we needed to do it because I was fat. He thought he had gained weight too but he is very tall. It doesn’t show.

I know that extra weight is damaging to our bones and joints. I knew I had to do something. I was carrying around about 40 extra pounds.

Try picking up two twenty-pound weights and carrying them around doing all of your normal daily activities. I was working hard physically in the cabins and the store. I was hurting myself.

While on this trip, I had my first twinge of pain in my right hip when I was getting out of the car one day. It was too late to save that hip.

When I got home from this trip I was well into the routine. It takes two weeks for your body to change and for ketosis to take place. If you can make it for the first two weeks, you’re on your way.

That was ten years ago.

I lost 38 pounds and felt fabulous. Peter lost some weight too and would easily do this diet again. He thinks it is the healthy way to eat and live.

Now there’s a “modified” Atkins diet that I will have to research. I have gained twenty pounds in this past decade. Time to give it a go again.

That is the total of 150 pounds that I have lost in the past 30 years for any of you "followers" that are keeping track.

As I pointed out previously, I have never gained back the weight I started from each time. We'll see what the fourth dieting decade holds.

For the naysayers out there who say that yo-yo dieting is unhealthy, I can only offer that this is my way of doing things. I love to cook for my family and my husband. I also thoroughly enjoy eating what I cook. It is just that there comes a time every ten years or so that I say, "OK Janet, lets lose some weight."

I've been on the Atkins diet three times in the last 30 years. I have been thin more than I have been too heavy. I get regular check-ups and am pleased to report that at this time I have good cholesterol levels, my blood pressure is normal, and I do not have any signs of diabetes or heart disease. I am thankful everyday for my excellent health.

I want to keep it that way.

Disclaimer: I am not qualified to give medical advice. If you have health-related issues please consult your healthcare provider before trying any diet.

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