Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Few Random Thoughts before My Birthday

Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I catch a glimpse of my father peeking out at me.

Lately, when my picture is being taken, some old man keeps standing in front of me. I wish he would get out of the way.

One would think that after spending over 50,000 dollars on a new knee, I would have a better knee than the one I replaced. It's only been 3 1/2 months, but I don't think I am being too impatient.

After losing 45 pounds, I have noticed a lot more wrinkles. I suppose the fat used to keep the wrinkles smoothed out.

I don't feel old, but it is shocking to think that I have been teaching longer than most of the teachers at my school have been alive.

When I retire at the end of next year, after 43 years of teaching, it is sobering to think that in no time at all I will be totally forgotten.

I hope I have done some good in the lives of the multiple thousands of students I have had over the years. I did get a thank you letter a few years ago from a former student who graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Utah. So that is one who made it.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Oops! Forgot Again.

Yesterday evening in the drizzling rain, my wife Chris and I went to the Texas Roadhouse to celebrate our 42nd anniversary. Our actual date is the 19th of August, but with school all day and my physical therapy in the afternoon the significance of the day was pushed out of our heads. Who says two heads are better than one? About ten o'clock that night, my son Hyrum and his wife Emery called and sang us the "Happy Anniversary" song. (For you old folks who at an early time in your lives watched the Flintstones, it is the song to the tune of the Lone Ranger theme which was actually the William Tell Overture.) We both laughed and said, "Oh yeah, it is our anniversary."

We have forgotten our anniversary more than once over the years. It is really a bad sign of something when you have talked about it the week before and still forget on the day.

Many years ago when our children were little, my wife and I had a part time job on weekday evenings working at Our Mom's Pies, a small pie factory owned by some friends of ours who lived down the street from us. My wife made and baked the pie shells while I mixed all the cream fillings and whipped cream and measured the fruit fillings. The work of the evening was dictated by the number of orders from restaurants in the area. One evening, after preparing a large order of pies, we were in the car driving home, too exhausted to talk and trying to reserve a little strength to take the babysitter home and put the kids to bed. I turned to Chris and asked, "Do you know what today is?" "It's the nineteenth." "Yep, the nineteenth of August, our anniversary." We both looked at each other and burst out laughing.
The dating couple ready for the BYU Fine Arts Ball 1971.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Summer's End

I know it is only the 16th of August, but school started yesterday for teachers, and students reluctantly wend their way to school next Wednesday. So, for all "in tents and porpoises," summer is at an end! This is the first summer in at least the last 25 that I have not been at school two or more times a week getting ready for the next year. This year, I stayed away most of the time. Of course, I also had my right knee replaced in June, so that helped to keep me away from school.
 Here is my knee at six days.
Here is my knee at six weeks; still swollen but slowly shrinking.

Before my surgery, I was able to do a couple of projects in the front yard. I finished the parking strip with volcanic gravel, and I landscaped the flower bed in front of the living room window. It certainly looks better than the periwinkle and snow on the mountain ground cover that was there before.
 This is early June. The flower pots and boxes and  beds are all lush now.
This is after all the larkspur and blue flax on the right of the walk had been pulled so I could harvest the seeds.

The week before my surgery, my wife and I did take a quick vacation to Arizona. Our fist destination was the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. On Tuesday the 17th, we drove from the Salt Lake Valley to Nephi on I-15, then headed east through Nephi Canyon to Mount Pleasant to catch Highway 89. I enjoy driving along 89 down to Kamas, Utah. It is a two lane road through quaint towns, villages, and beautiful vistas of fields and mountains. At Salina, we took the I-70 for one stretch of freeway going west to reconnect with the bottom leg of 89 at Sevier. We gained a little time on the freeway, and it is a beautiful drive through the mountains before they fall away into the western Utah desert and the I-15 corridor. I didn't stop to take any pictures, because we wanted to have some time at the Grand Canyon in the afternoon. I didn't think we would make it before dark, because Highway 89 about eighteen miles south of Paige had collapsed, and we were forced to take a huge detour.
Fortunately, we arrived at the eastern entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park in the late afternoon and still had a few hours before different sites closed for the day. We first drove to the Tusayan Museum and ruins, because it closed first.
Who is that old man in front of the museum? Oh, it's me!
Chris hiding behind an ancient pot in the museum.

After a self guided tour around the ruins, we backtracked to the Desert View Visitor Center. The Desert View Watch Tower was one of our favorite spots in the Grand Canyon. It is one of the several structures in the park that were designed by Mary Jane Colter.
 We loved the tower. The rock patterns are different on each wall that you examine. Inside the four story tower are murals painted by Fred Kabotie.

 Looking down from the third story, and looking up at the ceiling from the ground floor.

And here is that old man again. The canyon was very smoggy on this afternoon. The rest of our time at the canyon was clear, especially in the mornings.
In the gift shop was a shelf of kachinas. Chris said I should buy one for a souvenir. I usually buy a tie from wherever we are visiting, but I didn't see any at this gift shop. This is the kachina that I bought.

The first night, we stayed at Bright Angel Lodge, another building designed by Mary Jane Colter, and had a very nice dinner at the Arizona Room. We were not in the lodge itself, but in one of the cabin units with shared bath. We were about thirty feet from the rim trail.

We arose early and hiked the rim trail for about two miles or so from our cabin to Mather Point, Canyon Center and back. We watched the sun rise over the North Rim while we hiked and saw a few dear and a moose. The rest of the day we visited two other Mary Jane Colter buildings, Hopi House and Lookout Studio; El Tovar Hotel, out of our price range; and took the shuttle bus to Yaki Point and South Kaibab Trail-head. For lunch we visited the Bright Angel Restaurant and had a chicken salad pita, which we highly recommend. Instead of mayonnaise, the dressing is yogurt with fresh mint. One pita is big enough for two people, so we ate half for lunch and the rest for supper.
Ready for a morning hike beside a very wide, long, and deep slice in the earth.
 Early morning visitors to one of the lodges along the canyon rim.
Looking down to the west just before the sun crested the North Rim.
Wow! Like an atomic blast on the horizon, the sun arises.
Here's that old man again. Very rare picture because he is awfully close to the edge here.
Just after the sun cleared the horizon.
 Lookout Studio as seen from the Rim Trail in the pre-sunrise light.
The entrance to the Lookout Studio later in the morning
 Here is Hopi House near the El Tovar Hotel.
 Duck your head. It is a low door.
On Wednesday night, we stayed at Yavapai Lodge, because when we booked our rooms Bright Angel didn't have anything available for our second night. It was nice to have two different accommodation experiences, but we both enjoyed the Bright Angel "cabin" the best. Thursday morning we took a bus tour out to Hermit's Rest. When we returned, we had a light lunch at the El Tovar Hotel restaurant. Another great meal.
 Under the bell at Hermit's Rest.
An fascinating pile of stones.
Resting by the fire place inside the pile of stones.

After lunch on Thursday, we left the Grand Canyon by the south entrance and headed for Phoenix. We have two rental properties in the greater Phoenix area. Our tax man keeps telling us we need to visit our properties, so we thought this would be a good time to follow his orders. We stayed in Mesa that night and meet our property manager on Friday morning. He gave us a map to the two properties, which are not close to each other. It felt like we were driving forever as we made a huge circle from Mesa to Florence to Maricopa and back to Phoenix all on two lane roads. We had noticed that the car was over heating a little on our drive down. After we left the property manager's office, the temperature really started to climb.
The week before we left, I had had the car checked out at the Chrysler dealership where we bought it fourteen years ago. (Yes, it is old, but it has been such a good car!) They found that the water pump needed replacing and some seals in the cooling system were leaking. They did all the work we needed , but they didn't replace the thermostat when they flushed and refilled the radiator. So there we were in 100 plus degree Phoenix with a clogged thermostat driving in low gear with the windows open. Chris started calling all the Chrysler dealers in the area, but they were all booked up and would not even look at the car. Finally we found Earnhardt Chrysler in Gilbert who would look at the car, but couldn't promise to do anything until Saturday. We finally limped into their service line and explained the problem.
We sat in the waiting room for an hour before the service manager came in to give us what we thought would be bad news. He said that they had finished another car faster than expected and had looked at our car. He agreed that it was the thermostat, that they had the one we needed in stock, and that they would start working on it. An hour or so later we were on our way to Flagstaff where we stayed the night. So, if anyone needs service in the Phoenix area, Earnhardt Chrysler is the best. (A very nice waiting room too.)
 Our two little rental houses in Arizona.

Friday evening we ate at a nice little Mexican restaurant a couple of blocks from our motel in Flagstaff. The temperature was very pleasant, so we walked. Saturday morning we headed up good old Highway 89 for home. We made a little side trip though Sunset Crater National Monument and Wupatki National Monument. I sure love my Golden Age National Park Pass.
 Wukoki Pueblo.
Wupatki Pueblo.

We followed Highway 89 up past the Echo Cliffs, and crossed the Colorado River at Navajo Bridge. We visited Lee's Ferry for half an hour and watched some Colorado River rafters set off for a run of the river through the Grand Canyon. John Wesley Powell would have loved these huge rafts and all the supplies. Continuing on Alternate 89, we drove past the Vermilion Cliffs, over the mountains, and back to Kanab. When we reached I-70, we headed west to I-15 and shot up the corridor to our starting point.  I-15 for speed and Highway 89 for beauty.
 The Colorado River at Lee's Ferry.
The overlook of the Vermilion Cliffs. A little bit windy here.

The rest of the summer I have been engaged with physical therapy and genealogical research on the internet.
(Do you know the difference between a terrorist and a physical therapist? You can negotiate with a terrorist!)

Friday, June 6, 2014

D-Day Plus Seventy

I put out all my flags today to honor the servicemen and women who were part of or assisted the Normandy Invasion. There are fewer World War II veterans every year. I doubt if any will still be with us in ten years. Heck, who knows if the country and the way of life they fought for will still be here in ten years, or twenty or another seventy.
My father served in World War II, but was not at the Normandy Invasion. He was stationed in Karachi, India, (now Pakistan) as part of the China, Burma, India forces that kept the supplies going to the free Chinese army. He was not a pilot, but he did "fly the hump" over the mountains between India and China as part of the quartermaster crew. He was a boxer and was the armed services heavy weight champion of China, Burma, and India in 1945. He is still alive, but at two months shy of age ninety-one, his memory is a little foggy.
Here's my "old man":
Here he is (left) in his championship fight. He said, "... I looked like I was dead-starting to show a little life there."
Presenting the trophies.  He wrote on the back of the photo, "Chennault presented me with a cup like this also. Each had, 'Outstanding Boxer of All China Tournament, 1945.' How do you like the beard? Osa is the boy the wheel is presenting a cup to-" He kept his trophy cup on his dresser all the time I was growing up, but the lid was missing. He kept his change in it.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Rite of Spring at Ballet West

Yesterday evening, my wife, daughter and I went to the opening night of the Ballet West production of Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) by Igor Stravinsky. 2013 was the 100th anniversary of the first performance which caused a literal riot. I have loved this music for the last fifty years and have always wanted to see a production. I bought a recording when I was sixteen and wore the vinyl out. The record was probably so thin you could hear both sides playing at the same time. I once tried to follow the score while listening to it. Big failure.

I have seen photos of the first production and assumed that this production would be a recreation of that earth shaking ballet. I was a little disappointed to read that this production is a world premier of a new choreography by Nicolo Fonte, Ballet West’s resident choreographer. Disappointed, that is, until I saw what took place on the Capital Theatre stage. The dancers held the attention of the eye so tightly that that the movement of the stark, sandstone-colored scenery was unnoticed until the brain said, "Wait, that looks different." The water feature at the end was unexpected and thrilling. At the end, as applause began my wife said, "I'll stand up for that!" When the house light came up, we looked at each other and said, “Wow, I could see that again right now.” Wow! Wow! Wow! It was, as they say, breathtaking. My daughter said, “I can see why the music made them rioted a hundred years ago, but I loved it!”

The other two pieces on the program were the Utah premier of Jiří Kylián’s    Forgotten Land and Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15. The Kylián piece was another “Wow.” I have been a fan of his work since I saw his Petites Morts (bad French but great ballet) on YouTube a few years ago and was very happy to see it twice at Ballet West. My wife has also become a fan. The way he moves the dancers’ bodies in and over and around one another and through space is spectacular. The Divertimento No. 15 was an elegant, romantic interlude between the two modern pieces.
Ballet West principal artist Arolyn Williams in the fall of water. The photo is by Beau Pearson, a first soloist with Ballet West.

Monday, April 7, 2014

So Long Mickey and Andy and Whitey and Homer and ...

I was in a district inservice on Internet safety today, and we were talking about Twitter. I logged on my account and clicked on #MickeyRooney. I go there from time to time, so I was not expecting to see that he had died yesterday. It was kind of a shock, even though he was 93 and could have died at any time. But it was still like hearing that an old friend had died, and you just happened by chance to find out about it. I have blogged a few times about Mickey Rooney and my favorite Rooney films and characters so I will just say, "Wow, Mickey and Judy together again. Let's put on a show!"

I found this picture, a theatre card, in my mother's 1930s movie star scrapbook.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Shush of Librarians

A large shush* of librarians (400 school and a few public librarians) congregated in Ogden, Utah, today at the Eccles Conference Center. Today was the culmination of a year's worth of planning and hard work as the Utah Educational Library Media Association [UELMA] conference started early this morning. I have been going to this conference for eighteen years and served on the UELMA board for six years: 2006-2012, three as president elect, president, and past president (conference chair); and three as a board member. Only those who have organized or worked on a conference knows how much hard work and constant attention to the nit picking details it takes to make everything look smooth and easy. This year I served in a minor role as host/facilitator coordinator and helped a little with room assignments for the breakout sessions. Our conference chair was very organized and presented a worthy conference for the enthusiastic shush. I was able to host three interesting sessions and attend a forth session that one of my librarian friends requested to host.
Jason Chin (Island: A Story of the Galapagos), J. Scott Savage (Far World), Nathan Hale (Hazardous Tales), and Frank Cole (Hashbrown Winter) were our visiting authors who each had breakout sessions. The topics of the various sessions ranged from RDA cataloging to innovative ways to keep our libraries filled with students and have our libraries up to date on educational technology.  It is also great to have the handouts from most of the sessions posted on the UELMA web site so all we Utah school librarians can have access to the information from the sessions we were unable to work into our schedules.
It was nice to visit with my long time friends among the vendors as well as the veteran librarians I get to see only at the conference. It is good to see that there are a lot of us "oldies but goodies" still around and shakin' it up with the youngins.
*"A shush of librarians," from Sacher, Jason, A Compendium of Collective nouns: From an Armory of Aardvarks to a Zeal of Zebras

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Erin Go Bragh, Part 2

I made this ATC for a "St. Paddy's Day ATC Swap" and sent it off this morning in a handmade envelope. I made the envelope from a page from an old LIFE Magazine and glued a few things on the cover. A problem I had with the envelope was that the glue was not adhering to the glossy magazine page. Hopefully it won't fall apart in the postal machinery.
My daughter-in-law's aunt fell a week ago and broke her shoulder. It was a bad break, and they had to replace her shoulder. I sent her a get well card in this envelope.
I sent out another decorated envelope last week for a "Make It Pretty" envelope swap.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Erin Go Bragh, Part 1

I just sent out an ATC swap with a handmade envelope. It is an early St. Patrick's Day ATC. The background is layered tissue paper using a glue wash to adhere the tissue to poster board. The envelope is made from a magazine page with some stuff glued on. I never know if I have too much or too little.

While composing this tiny post, I am listening to Virtual Choir. It is hard to concentrate with 5000 voices singing at me, so it is taking longer than I planned to post this. Oh, well. Erin Go Bragh!