Before one of Bob Matthews’ students signed up for a tracking class, a morning’s walk around his property to examine the prior night’s activities chewed up an hour and a half.

After the class, it took three hours.

Anyone in Sedona who wants to have a few words with Twyla Langenberg has to be fast on their feet.

After two hours of tennis at the Radisson Poco Diablo resort on Tuesday morning, the 88½-year-old dynamo had only a few minutes for an interview before she was on to her next assignment for the day.

Setting down her purple 3.8 Sledge Hammer racquet for a moment and straightening the hot pink tongues on her K-Swiss tennis shoes, the former schoolteacher described briefly her life to date, one that epitomizes the phrase “carpe diem.”

Growing up on a farm in the hills of Greensburg, Pa., Langenberg thought it would be nice if her father used a corner of their property to build the family a tennis court.

He never did, but whenever there was the opportunity to hit a few balls with her friends in town, she always said yes.

As graduation from high school loomed, she thought long and hard about what to do next.

twyla-langenberg-7-15“I wanted to go to college, but my parents couldn’t afford it,” Langenberg said. “Since I couldn’t see any future staying around town, I joined the Navy where I was a WAVE and a storekeeper which meant I took care of the payroll.”

While stationed at the base on Lido Beach in Long Island, the new recruit was given a tennis racket by a friend, the two of them playing on the athletics fields when they were off duty.

Being so close to New York, she also took advantage of the train, riding into the city where she went to every play and musical she could find.

After her stint in the Navy was up, she looked toward Boston, attending New England Conservatory where she studied violin.

“I didn’t do so well there, but my best friend from the Navy, Rosalie Davidson, was going to Denver University and she said it was a good school and she wanted me to come out there, so I transferred,” Langenberg said.

Majoring in home economics, she earned her undergraduate degree, then went on to graduate school in Wisconsin.

“I spent a year there before transferring to the University of Illinois where I got a master’s degree in food and nutrition,” she said.

Marriage and a family of two girls and two boys followed.

When the children were old enough to be in school all day, she went back to the University of Illinois, earning a teaching certificate for elementary school.

That led to positions in Decatur, Ill. where she taught fifth grade for 10 years and third grade for five.

In the meantime, one of her own children enrolled at Northern Arizona University, making Flagstaff and Sedona prime destinations for family vacations.

When her second husband retired from the Caterpillar Corp., the couple didn’t have to think twice before moving to the Village of Oak Creek.

Since her husband was an avid golfer, Langenberg focused her attention on the tees and greens, playing with him most late afternoons and in the Niners for years as well.

But, in 1985, when Yavapai College offered tennis classes at Bell Rock Inn, she returned to the sport she always wanted to play, exchanging her clubs for a racket.

“It felt pretty natural,” she said.

Since then, she’s become a regular at Poco where she was named Player of the Year in 2008.

“It’s a wonderful place to play; everyone greets you by name and they always seem genuinely happy to see you,” Langenberg said.

Resident tennis pro Packy Baker explained why.

“All I can say is Twyla is extremely professional on the court at all times,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to play with her.”

Formerly a sports agent and an avid tennis player and a fellow member at Poco, Mel Levine agreed.

“Twyla always has a happy face,” Levine said. “She loves people. She loves the game. She couldn’t be a better ambassador for the sport.”

In addition to playing tennis at least twice a week, and four times when enough players can be found, the grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of three belongs to Friends of the Forest.

One of her duties as a Friend is staffing the U.S. Forest Service Visitor Center south of the Village where she works the counter, greeting tourists and campers and advising them on what’s best to do in the red rocks.

Come autumn, she’ll be back working with students at her regular twice-a-week math and reading tutoring gig at Big Park School.

“I don’t know where I get the energy, but my mother lived to be 104,” Langenberg answered to a question. “Maybe I inherited her genes.”

 

Susan Johnson can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 129, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

End world hunger.

It’s a phrase heard in Sedona from time to time, but the scope of the mission is so broad that many people dismiss taking it on, considering it too big, too hard, too vague or too distant.

Yet, three Lutheran pastors wearing spandex and helmets and pedaling the world’s first and only bamboo bicycle built for three are trying to pedal that goal into the realm of possibility.

Tour-De-Revs-1-7-10Called the Tour de Revs, their mission began at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America headquarters in Chicago on May 13. Their goal is to travel 13,000 miles and visit 65 cities in 100 days, ending in Minneapolis on Wednesday, Aug. 19.

Sedona is on their itinerary, arriving on Sunday, July 19, when they’ll be joined by the Verde Valley Cycling Coalition for a 15-mile ride from Christ Lutheran Church on State Route 179 to the Village of Oak Creek and back, beginning at 1:30 p.m. At 2:30 p.m., the public is invited to join the pastors and cyclists at the church where they’ll tell tales from the road and show off their Calfree-built bamboo triplet bike.

Following that, at 4 p.m., the pastors will make a 15-minute address to the congregation and anyone else who’d like to attend in Fellowship Hall, followed by a very short presentation by a representative of the Verde Food Council.

Immediately afterward, a taco salad bar and cookies will be served.

Averaging 60 years of age, the three pastors are friends, all of them with parishes in West Virginia.

The Rev. Dr. Fred A. Soltow Jr. has been pastor of the Shepherdstown Lutheran Parish since 2001, ordained in the Metro New York Synod in 1975.

“I think most people have an awareness of world hunger, but not a definitive concept of what it means, and what we can and should do about it,” Soltow said. “We bring [to the tour] a very scriptural awareness of how as children of God we have an obligation to feed the people.

The Rev. Ron Schlak has been pastor of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Charleston, W. Va., and was ordained in the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches in 1977.

“The single most useful thing that folks can do to alleviate world hunger is to remember that money talks, but don’t ever forget the power of the pen,” Schlak said. “As citizens of the United States, each of us has a powerful option we make too little use of. I am talking about our right to contact our governmental leaders and express our opinions and concerns. Sometimes we forget that our governmental representatives, who cannot possibly know everything about every subject, depend on us for advice and direction. Often, a phone call or snail mail or e-mail, coming from you or me to our elected representatives will do a lot to change the lives of others for the better.”

The Rev. David A. Twedt is pastor of the Capon North River Lutheran Parish in Wardensville where he was ordained in 1992.

“Except for two self-imposed seven-day fasts and an ill-prepared bicycle ride that sent me searching in trash baskets for partially consumed burgers, I haven’t personally experienced hunger,” Twedt said. “I have, however, seen it in impoverished people in several U.S. cities and Latin America locations. Beyond that, I’ve been involved with several relief and development organizations that work to alleviate poverty and injustice both domestically and internationally.”

The pastors hope to raise $5 million for the ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal.

“I would like to raise $1 for each pedal stroke of our journey,” Soltow said. “I estimate that to be 5 million pedal strokes.”

Another of their goals is to stimulate the ELCA’s 65 synods and 10,448 congregations to formulate and implement realistic plans to eradicate hunger, and to make wellness a higher priority in the church.

The triplet bamboo bike the pastors are riding complements their message.

Businessman Craig Calfee was the first person to use the natural material during a bicycle building publicity stunt in 1995.

So popular was its smooth ride that employees, friends and family demanded their own bamboo bikes, becoming unwitting test pilots and ultimately sending the model into limited production.

In the meantime, Calfee remembered three things he’d noticed during a trip to Africa in 1984: There was a lot of bamboo. People used bikes and didn’t have enough of them. People needed jobs.

He wondered if those same people could build their own bamboo cargo bikes.

With funding from organizations and individuals, he set the project in motion in Ghana and some people are now making their own bikes.

“Cycling is the most advanced transportation a lot of hungry people can afford,” Schlak said. “Whether it’s a modern American city or a small village in Africa, many people ride bikes because they cannot afford a vehicle with a motor. People in Ghana are lifting themselves out of poverty by harvesting locally-grown bamboo and forming it into bicycle frames and attaching the necessary bike parts.”

Those who feel moved to make donations may do so at the church or to the tour directly.

More information on the pastors’ visit to Sedona and Christ Lutheran is available from Dawn Bershader at 204-9914.

More information on the tour is at: http://www.tourderevs.org.

 

Susan Johnson can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 129, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Yavapai County’s fourth- through eighth-grade Teacher of the Year doesn’t say she goes to work, she says she goes to school.

Fifth-grade teacher, Pat Pfeifer, has spent 30 of her 43 years of teaching at West Sedona School.

After four decades of teaching, Principal Lisa Hirsch describes Pfeifer as “fresh, exciting and innovative.”

Writing mystery novels is the greatest gig in the world, according to award-winning author Kris Neri who spoke to the Sedona Welcomers on Feb. 25.

“That’s because you get to have things turn out the way you want them to,” Neri said.

The author of 60 short stories published in magazines including Blue Murder, Murderous Intent Mystery and Woman’s World, she’s twice won the Derringer Award for best short story and twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Marching bands, strolling musicians and irrepressible Irish balladeers are already tuning up for Sedona’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 14, beginning at 10:30 a.m.

This family-friendly community event is designed for children of all ages, so get those folding chairs, sun shades and sunscreen at the ready for a celebration of people-watching, entertainment and all that’s green.

Though the parade may look effortless, months of meticulous planning is involved, the logistics provided primarily by 30 Northern Arizona University students taking the Parks and Recreation course taught by Professor Charles Hammersley, as well as 25 additional student volunteers who participate just for fun.

Sponsored by Sedona Main Street, the students sign up for the class in order to get hands-on experience in organizing and implementing large events.

Sedona also contributes a “Green Team,” comprised of several local volunteers, including John DiBattista who’s worked on the parade since 1999.

In addition to sponsorship acquisition, this year he’ll be working with the students on construction of a new entertainment stage.

“The lumber is being delivered Friday and we’ll be working on it nonstop till the paint goes on,” DiBattista said. “We’re setting it up so at the end it can be taken down, stored and reused every year.”

A parade lover ever since he marched as a Boy Scout in Illinois, DiBattista has said he wouldn’t miss the opportunity to work on it.

“The rewards are self-evident,” DiBattista said. “It’s an important event for Sedona, creating and reinforcing our sense of place, making you feel like you’re a part of the community.”

Once of his favorite memories from the past few parades was an 11-year-old American Indian from Ganado High School.

“There was a big snowstorm and no one in the band could make it down here except this one girl who showed up with her flute,” DiBattista said. “She won’t remember me, but I’ll never forget her, marching all alone, playing her flute and the crowd cheering her on.”

It’s last minute changes like that — a band not showing up — that “Green Team” member Ray Anderson has to work around.

Formerly a railroad engineer, Anderson puts his work experience to good use braiding walkers, horses, vehicles, dignitaries and bands into one continuous procession even though space limitations mean each of these groups assembles in a completely different location.

“It’s just like moving trains around a freight yard,” Anderson said.

One of the tricky parts for Anderson is that every year there are different participants, and for some people filling out the entry forms a truck means a pickup, but for others, namely County Supervisor Chip Davis, a truck meant a 70-foot semi-tractor trailer replete with band.

Then there are the niceties of order.

“You do not put the dancing grannies right behind the prancing horses,” Anderson said. “We also have a 12-foot clearance limit on Jordan Road. That means Out of Africa can bring their double-decker Hummer, but as far as animals go, I told them “It can be 1,000 pounds, but it has to be short. No giraffes!”

According to Anderson, putting it all together would be impossible without the students.

“The parade is 90 percent advance planning and 10 percent ‘day-of,’” Hammersley said. “It’s like pushing a boulder off a cliff; once it starts, all you can do is go along for the ride.”

No matter how much planning goes into it, there are always surprises.

“These events are dynamic and the students have to be able to think quickly, use excellent judgment and anticipate the future,” Hammersley said.

Two years ago one of the classic cars in the parade caught fire.

Thanks to emergency procedures in place for just that sort of unscheduled performance, the students were able to stop the parade, move the performers to one side and expedite the emergency vehicles.

The end result was that few parade watchers saw smoke much less any flames.

Just a few of the items on the advance planning to-do list include notifying residents and businesses along the parade route, inviting and tending to state and regional dignitaries, setting up displays and building the stage.

NAU student Kristen Dawn King is in charge of the dignitaries.

“I invited all the local mayors, county supervisors, the governor and our state and federal legislators, between 25 and 30 people in all,” King said. “Once they confirm they’re coming, I have to make banners for them and in some cases find transportation for them in the parade. They also need directions and we need to know how many guests they’re bringing so that we can make sure they have everything they need.”

Student chairwoman of the parade is Stephanie Outland who had good things to say about her team.

“Everything we’re doing, even mistakes, are learning experiences that will make it easier to do in the future,” Outland said. “When we first heard how much work it would take, we were like deer looking into headlights. Now, we’re getting more tense, both with fear and excitement, fear that we’ve forgotten something and excitement that all our work is coming to fruition!”

The students travel down from Flagstaff on Friday, setting up their headquarters in the West Sedona Elementary School.

If they’re lucky, they might get to sleep for an hour or two during the night, but more likely they’ll have to wait for some shut-eye until well after the last float is checked in at the end of the parade.

In the meantime, there are parking lots to staff, traffic to direct, signs to set up, a balloon arch to build and fires — hopefully figurative instead of literal — to fight.

For Outland, working on the parade will help in her pursuit of a Parks and Recreational Management major.

King said she’s enjoying working with the dignitaries and is learning time management as well as how best to work with a team rather than individually.

“This parade has a very high reputation to uphold and I want to make sure I do my best to keep it that way,” King said.

The parade will be preceded by the Shamrocks in the Red Rocks Road Race at 8 a.m., also on Jordan Road, which is presented by the students independently.

A Parade Festival begins immediately following the procession, including live dance music, face painting, balloon animal-making, exotic animals from Out of Africa Wildlife Park, a bounce castle, mural painting, food court and beer garden.

All of the entertainment and children’s activities are free, sponsored by local businesses.


Susan Johnson can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 129, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Red Tank Draw is not for the faint of heart.

But for those who want a real archaeological adventure in a rugged and lonely location, this is the real thing.

It’s necessary to wear sturdy hiking boots for protection against several things: the huge vigorous prickly pear cactus that populate this area, startled rattlesnakes that sometimes sun themselves here and turning an ankle between the numerous misshapen stones, rocks and boulders.

daytripper-3-4-09.jpgA hiking stick is also a good idea not just for balance but to hold catclaw acacia and other thorny vegetation at a distance.

Binoculars are helpful too, helping to spot panels worth the investment in scrambling up the talus slopes.

Due to the challenging terrain and lack of frequent visitors, it’s a good idea not to travel here alone in case of an accident requiring someone to go for help.

The draw itself is a deep wash draining into Wet Beaver Creek, sometimes carrying cold, tumbling snow melt, coursing over sheer drops, washing over large boulders and around deep-rooted, sprawling sycamore trees.

Beautiful to see and hear, the hectoring water sometimes makes it difficult or impossible to navigate in certain places along the streambed, and visitors will be limited in what they can see.

More typically, the wash is dry, allowing unrestricted access to rock walls on both sides of the draw that are filled with petroglyphs.

For some, the lack of a dictionary defining each of the hundreds of drawings found here is frustrating.

Others find reward in the mystery of their meanings and the opportunity to speculate and to time-travel back to prehistory, if only vicariously.

While some of the petroglyphs are hard to miss, others are hidden on panels that have fallen or still stand high near the rim, requiring the sure-footedness of a mountain goat.

When choosing to climb to these sites, it’s recommended not to put hands and feet into crevices that might already be occupied by territorial wildlife.

Petroglyphs are the main attraction but multicolored lichens growing on the sheer rock walls can be found here as well, some forming designs as intriguing as the etchings.

As ancient as the rock art, lichens are the unlikely combination of a fungus and an algae (although sometimes a fungus and a cyanobacterium).

Occurring in some of the most extreme environments in the world, these organisms are able to suspend their metabolism in times of severe drought, yet are sensitive to industrial pollution.

American Indians sometimes used them to make dyes and they’ve also been used to treat wounds.

On occasion, hikers traversing the draw will thrill to the high-pitched trills of red spotted toads.

Lovelorn males audition for mates during the breeding season running from March through September.

A view of Casner Butte and the remote landscapes to the east offer further rewards for making the relatively short but bumpy drive to the draw.

A benefit concert for the Tibetans in Exile Health Project will be held at the Creative Life Center on Friday, March 13, at 7:30 p.m.

Vibhas Kendzia, a classically trained pianist and flutist who’s studied Latin percussion, saxophone and the native flutes of India and America, is providing the music.

Participants will have the chance to bid on fine art, jewelry, dining certificates, adventure packages and alternative health treatments donated by artists and merchants from Sedona, the Verde Valley and Santa Fe, N.M.

All of the proceeds will be used toward a medical clinic in Mainpat, India, to treat Tibetan refugees exiled by Chinese oppression.

Sarah and Sig Hauer and Jane Ginn, all of Sedona, are behind the project, initiating the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and serving on its board of directors.

At the request of Tulku Karma Rinpoche, a Buddhist lama who is the spiritual and effectual leader of the camp, the Hauers traveled in June, 2008, to Mainpat, a remote mountaintop where hundreds of Tibetans suffer without any medical care or proper living arrangements.

Acupuncturists and herbal medicine experts, the Hauers treated 450 people over the course of 10 days, using equipment and medicine transported by them from the U.S.

“These are peaceful, loving people who are dying from simple things,” Sarah said.

Pain from old injuries, childbirth and chronic diseases totaled half of the conditions the Hauers treated.

Digestive, respiratory and eye and ear problems constituted another 36 percent with urogenital, liver, hypertensive and diabetic diseases comprising the bulk of the remainder.

The closest hospital is hours away from the camp over unimproved roads, a difficult journey for anyone in distress.

Even if patients make the trip, there’s no certainty they will be treated in clinical conditions.

One of the camp’s residents died of Hepatitis B shortly after the Hauers arrived, doomed to death by dirty needles used at the hospital where he initially sought treatment for another disease.

In addition to providing traditional Chinese medicine, the Hauers have short-term goals of attracting visiting practitioners: doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners, experts in eye and ear diseases and others who can offer formal Western medical care.

“If we build a clinic and stock it with medicines it will be easier to have visiting practitioners come and plug themselves in,” Sarah said.

Long-term goals include the establishment of a scholarship program for medical training in Western and Chinese medicine so the Tibetans are able to provide their own treatment.

The Hauers are currently working with the Rinpoche in Sedona where he and his father, Lama Samteng, are visiting, providing blessings to local residents and businesses.

Samteng was formerly a Buddhist monk, meditating for two and a half years in a cave as is the practice.

Chinese officers dragged him out of his sanctum, tied his hands behind his back, forced him to his knees and put a pistol to his head.

“They dragged him for days wherever they were going — without food or any comforts,” Rinpoche said.

When his captors left him untended for one night, he escaped.

“For three years, I ran from them before reaching the border of India, hiding during the day or pretending to be a laborer,” Samteng said.

His son, the Rinpoche, was born in exile.

Samteng and Rinpoche’s stories are similar to those of many Tibetans who have been forced from their homeland, living precariously in India where they have no legal status, no land and few, if any, resources.

Tickets for the fundraiser are $20 per person and can be obtained by calling 282-0882 or 300-0649.

More information on the health project can be obtained from the Hauers at Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine at 282-0882.

 

Susan Johnson can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 129, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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