Before we get to our regularly scheduled program, I have a brief announcement to make. Infuze Magazine is running a contest on their site for the best short stories of 2005. Not sure how much longer the poll is going to be up, but go on over and vote if you haven’t already. There are a lot of good short stories there. I think I’ve read nearly all of them. Of course I voted for Michael Snyder’s “My Name is Russell Fink.” Not just because he’s an awesome crit partner, but because it truly was the best story. So, spend an afternoon reading some really great short fiction, or, if you don’t have time, just take my word for which one’s the best 😉

Okay, the title of this post could be a slight exaggeration. Arizona doesn’t look a whole lot different around Christmas than it does in say, July. Just more lights on people’s houses. But because Dineen requested it, and I aim to please, here are some pictures of Arizona. And really, since this blog is called Sonoran Saga, y’all might want more of the Sonoran than the saga anyway.

This is Sedona, about two hours north of us. It’s known for its red rocks and vortexes. Not sure what vortexes are, but New Agers seem to love them. If you can get past all the weird New Age stuff up there, it’s a beautiful place and there are a lot of great hiking trails. These pictures were taken last January. Some friends of ours couldn’t use their timeshare up there and kindly donated a night to us.

There had just been a huge rainstorm with a lot of flooding, so was darker, damper and colder than usual. Still, a lot of fun. And I discovered hiking is a great way to wear out my son. Sorry the pictures aren’t better quality but I didn’t want them to take forever to load.

This one I took about half an hour from our house. It’s the backside of the Superstition Mountains, which I can see from my backyard. The Apache Trail is a really cool drive that goes behind the Superstition Mountains, meets up with the Salt River, and eventually ends up at the Roosevelt Dam. Parts of the scenery on the drive look like a miniature Grand Canyon.

Our house is looking more Christmas-y. We put up our tree this week. It’s fake but it’s the only kind we can have with our allergies and asthma. It’s a pre-lit one, and I have to say I really like not messing with the lights every year.

This is the first year my son is actually delighted with all the tiny ornaments instead of constantly undecorating them. Of course he also finds it’s a perfect cover for covert operations. I caught him low-crawling under it. “I gotta shoot the bad guys,” he says, firing away with the camel from the nativity scene as the gun.

“There’s no bad guys in the Christmas tree,” I tell him. “They’re not allowed. It’s against the rules.”

He seems to buy this, and he and his deadly camel head upstairs to the playroom. A few minutes later, he’s back downstairs and two of the wise men are engaged in mortal combat.

I’m glad this is the PlayMobile version of the nativity instead of the porcelain one on the mantel. And somehow, I’m thinking the Advent readings we’ve been doing aren’t quite hitting home with my four year old.

Did I mention I’m DONE with all my Christmas shopping? I still need to wrap presents, and I’m waiting for a shipment from Amazon, and have a few finishing touches on a couple of things, but all the crowd fighting is done. I can now relax and enjoy Christmas.

AND, I can tackle my to-be-read stack that’s threatening to topple over.