Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pinewood Derby, Circa 1975...

My Pinewood Derby Car

Tonight as I changed from my work clothes to my sweats, I spied my old Pinewood Derby car. I found it when we cleaned out my mom's house in '07 and I've kept it ever since. I took it off the shelf, dusted it off, and snapped a few pictures.

I remember this car distinctly. My father had just passed away and my mother took my brother and I to see my dad's youngest sibling. My uncle was one of those "pro scouter" dads who took the art of pinewood derby racing seriously. The pinewood kits in the 1970's had better options than the kits of today, specifically, the tires. Today's derby tires lack substance like the hard plastic ones of yesteryear. My uncle had us file down the tires so there was very little actual plastic touching the track...this was great advice.

I remember my uncle gave us lead weights (which I think were bullet slugs, now that I think of it...) and we drilled holes into the bottom of the car to make the car go faster due to the added weight. We found out later that the car was too heavy so my mother drilled out some of the lead.


I remember painting the car. I placed masking tap over the car and painted it red and white. I've come to realize that red and white is possibly the most beautiful color combination possible. Those colors are the colors of Denmark and the colors of the University of Utah. Only brown and gold come close. ;)

One of the photographs of my youth show me in mid-race excitement as my car, the brilliantly decorated racer with the classic shape and the number 7 embossed on the side, leads the pack. My car wasn't the fastest. It didn't win a trophy like my brother's boring yellow car, but I liked it better. It was one of the first projects my mom helped me build. I'm glad it survives today.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

St. George...7, The Final Chapter


St. George, Part 7...The Final Chapter

Here is the final chapter of this little story. The other chapters, 1-6 are on my blog beginning 16 November 2011. It was fun to write and hopefully, fun to read as well. Thanks for checking it out.

            Blanch exited the stage and Natalie stepped to the microphone.
            “Thank you for having us here,” she said, her smile brightening the park as the sun slowly set in the west. “You are such a beautiful audience. In fact, my father was commenting as we drove up just how attractive everyone is.” Clarence hit his high hat cymbal and a low mummer could be heard from the crowd.
            “We hope you enjoy our gift to you.” Natalie stepped back and the song begun.

            “It’s Not Their Fault” lyrics   

            There are times when mistakes are made,
            And judgments of others descend
            But we’re hear today to tell you all,
            Our mistakes we all must tend
            In life we can’t always understand,
            Why some do the things they do,
            Their actions are there for all to see  
            But judge not; it could happen to you

            As the chorus began all the children rushed the stage and started singing. The performance was awe-inspiring. Some women in the audience let out a gasp.

            Please don’t blame the children—it’s not their fault,
            They wouldn’t do this in their youth…
            When you see the children, take a look inside yourself,
            God’s the only one who knows the truth.
            The Fredricksens and other children continued their song. As they sang two men in hunting attire climbed out of a newly arrived truck. The men walked into the crowd as they watched their children sing. Their eyes never left the stage. A confused look crossed the hunter’s faces. The men made their way to where MarLinda and MarLisa watched the families perform.
            “Dan!” MarLinda yelled as she hugged her unwashed husband. Dan hugged her back but the look of bewilderment never left his face. "You made it!" Rodger joined MarLisa and the couple turned their attention to the song.
            “MarLinda?” Dan asked his wife as she watched the performance.
            “Yes, dear?” MarLinda responded, her eyes still glued to the stage.
            “Hun…why are our children dressed as polygamists?”
            MarLinda froze and looked straight ahead. The song continued and a look of horror crossed MarLinda’s face as she realized why Blanch acted so odd when introduced to the Fredericksens, and why she thought the family hailed from Colorado City, not Salt Lake City.
            When she could move MarLinda looked around at her neighbors and friends. The audience still watched the talented family sing, but she could almost read their minds—especially the women as they looked upon Clarence and wondered if he could really be the father to all those kids. The song continued.

            So give all the kids you see a break
            The sin is not theirs to bear
            God works in mysterious ways
            If you love the kids, you’ll care

            Please don’t blame the children—it’s not their fault,
            They wouldn’t do this in their youth…
            When you see the children, take a look inside yourself,
            God’s the only one who knows the truth.

            The song ended and the audience respectfully applauded the obvious talent reflected on stage. All MarLinda could do was try and disappear in the center of the crowd. She lowered her head and whispered so no one to hear, “Oh, dear Lord…”
            Natalie returned to the microphone and again showed the people, the park, and the beautiful red rock mountains her blinding smile. “Thank you, thank you all,” Natalie said through that smile. “Your kindness reassures our fundamental belief in mankind.”

The End

*Scene from "The Three Amigos" used w/o permission

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Facebook Birthday Experiement...

(Our pooch--before haircut)

My Birthday Experiment...

Last year, 364 days to be exact, I decided to try a little experiment. You see almost exactly one year ago today I had just celebrated my birthday. Now, I know it's a small thing, but when I accessed my Facebook account last year, I got a few "Happy Birthdays" from my electronic Facebook friends and I was grateful to those people.

(Our pooch--after haircut)

I thought back on the year that had passed and I realized when I saw others birthdays on Facebook, most of the time I ignored them and wouldn't send a "Happy Birthday" wish. And since I got only a few birthday wishes last year, I made the decision to wish a "Happy Birthday" to as many people as possible. I was doing pretty good this year until Facebook changed the way they presented information and I kind of "missed a few..." If you were one that I missed, I apologized.

(Our pooch--after haircut)

So, my birthday this year came and went and at the end of the day, I checked Facebook to see if my experiment--that is, wishing people "Happy Birthday" would increase the responses on my Facebook wall--had increased the wishes for this year. When I checked at the end of the day on my birthday this year, only one person remembered. 

(Our pooch--after haircut)

To be honest, it was kind of a bummer, but I understand people are busy and my birthday usually falls on Thanksgiving weekend so people have many is the most important, after all. Today I decided to go into my Facebook account and remove my birthday from my account so that next year, I wouldn't need to worry about worrying over "Happy Birthday" wishes. And that's when I found out that my birthday was not posted on my information so no one received a notice that it was my birthday. So, I guess my experiment failed. We'll see what happens next year. Happy birthday everyone!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lights Of The Season...

Lights Of The Season...

We live on a dead-end street, just half a dozen homes on the side of a hill above a dead lake in the desert. Though considered affluent by many people's standards, I think it's a humble little cul-de-sac, especially when in comparison to other homes in the town.

We drove out tonight to the flats and as we drove closer and closer to our street the lights of the homes in the valley and on the hill were illuminated with Christmas lights.

Our street lights will not overwhelm anyone, or in the very least, not many people. But to me, the lights overpower me with a sense of home and comfort and warmth and family. As a child I watched each and every house on our street be built. I've seen families move in and move out, people leave and people die, children grow up, marry and have families of their own.

Tonight I peered out my bedroom window and the crisp air bit at the skin on my face. I toggled with the limited controls of the camera and snapped a couple of shots hoping, in some small way, to capture the feeling I had as I piloted my car to its assigned spot in our driveway. I know the pictures fall short of this goal, but it's what I felt and what I thought I'd share with you. I hope if you choose to put up lights to help celebrate the season, memories--good memories--come back to you for you to embrace and hold forever in your heart.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

St. George...6

St. George, Part 6

My son asked me today if Part 5 of this story was missing, or if he had missed it. I said he hadn't, but when I checked, I labeled Part 5 Part 6, so here's the real Part 6.
            The family arrived at the park just before dusk. The brakes on the big bus squeaked as they applied friction to stop the aging vehicle. This time, the bus was not alone in transporting the small army of performers to the city park a mile from the Larsen’s country home.
            Dad peered out the window and saw the smaller city park alive with activity. Several tables were set up in one corner of the park filled with foodstuffs and other sellable items. People meandered about the tables while kids ran to and fro around the entire park except for one corner of the park where yellow caution tape surrounded an abandoned playground set obviously damaged by the flood. Dad’s eyes scanned further and noticed a makeshift stage and over the stage a large banner gently flapped in the wind. The banner read, “Don’t Blame The Children; It’s Not Their Fault.”
            Following the bus were two minivans packed with children. Mom set the parking break and opened the door. Once everyone breathed fresh air again the large performing group gathered behind the stage and went over some last-minute notes. Each of the children were dressed similarly, the boys wore cowboy jeans and plaid shirts; the girls wore angle-length denim skirts and bonnets. Natalie obviously chose a pioneer theme for the performance.
            As the children met, Dad spoke with MarLinda while walking toward a group of people already assembled around the food tables.
            “I guess Dan and Rodger aren't going to make it.”
            “Nope,” MarLinda said dejectedly. “They called this morning. They said it might take all day to get the animal off that ledge.”
            “Too bad,” dad said. “I think it’s going to be a great show.”
            As dad, mom, MaLinda and MarLisa entered the park, MarLinda let out a cry.
            “Blanch! These are the people I told you about!”
            A smartly dressed woman in her mid-40’s turned at the mention of her name. Once she spotted the family, Blanch hid the apparent shock she felt when she saw Molly, Clarence, MarLisa and all the child dressed as pioneers.
            “Hello, MarLinda,” Blanch said as she greeted her friend. “Apparently, you didn’t’ tell me everything about them.” Blanch turned to mom. “I didn’t know you had so many children…”
            “Why, yes,” mom said blushing. “They are a blessing. I guess all those spirits needed a place to go so they came to us.” Mom’s giggled response garnered attention from a few adults in the area.
            “Well,” Blanch said. “I guess they keep you busy.”
            “Oh, well,” mom said. “They’re not all mine, thank goodness.”
            Blanch looked at MarLisa then shot Clarence a controlled scowl.
            “I take it you’re the father?”
            “That’s me!” dad said proudly.
            “I see you’ve been busy too,” Blanch huffed.
            “Yes, at times,” dad said with a smile. “You see, you’ve got to pace yourself. To make a large family successful, you’ve got to have priorities…you have to know when to have fun, and when not to. Personally, I try to have as much fun as possible.”
            “I can see that,” said Blanch.
            Dad felt a curtness in Blanch’s voice and decided to help the children set up. “I think I’ll go help out the kids,” dad said as he excused himself from the others. As dad walked to the stage, he couldn’t help but notice some unusual looks he received from the adults at the park. Many event goers, mostly women, looked shocked as he passed them, and a few of the men smiled broadly and give him a “thumbs up” as he walked by. Dad had spent some time in Southern Utah, but not enough to understand the strange reaction he was not receiving by the local population. I guess it’s just how they do thing down here, he thought.
            Once the family had all the equipment set up and sound checks on the microphones done, Blanch walked confidently to the stage. Mom, dad, and the kids were all in place with their instruments ready to perform. MarLinda and Marlisa’s children waited backstage for their opportunity.
            “Hello everyone,” Blanch said into the microphone. The murmuring from the audience slowed then eventually stopped as Blanch waited for their undivided attention.
            “I’m Blanch Anderson. MarLinda Larsen and I…” Blanch pointed to MarLinda who stood just off stage and who waved to the crowd at the mention of her name. “MarLinda and I had organized this charity event to raise funds to fix the park. We thank you so much for all you’ve done so far to help us reach our goal.”
            Blanch waited as polite applause greeted the stately woman.
            “And to help us with our charity event this evening, we’ve invited the Fredericksen family from Colorado City…”
            Blanched stopped speaking as Natalie meekly taped her on the shoulder and whispered something in her ear.
            “Really?” Blanch said just loud enough for the microphone to pick up.
            “Um, I’m sorry,” Blanch said returning her words to the crowd. “I guess the Fredricksens are from Salt Lake City.” Again the crowd gave a cautious round of applause through which Blanch could be heard saying under her breath, “…didn’t think they allowed that up north…”
            “Let’s give a warm Southern Utah welcome to, THE FREDERICKSENS!”

To Be Continued...

Friday, November 25, 2011

St. George...5

St. George, Part 5
And so, the story continues...

            Around noon the tired bus pulled up and stopped in front of the Larsen’s home with a tired family inside. As the engine of the once school bus died a flood of people exited the large rambler in a quiet subdivision southeast of the city center. The bus’s driver was the first to depart and the whole valley heard her when she spotted her friend.
            “MARLINDA!” Molly yelled waking her sleeping spouse from inside the bus. “It’s so good to see you!”
            As the two women hugged Molly noticed the stream of people—mostly children—that continued streaming from the house.
            “These aren’t all your kids, are they, MarLinda?”
            “Heavens no,” MarLinda said. “My sister’s in town, from Parowan. She’s got eight kids, too!”
            “Are you sure there’s enough room for all of us?” Mom asked anxiously.
            “Of course! We were thinking about opening up the barn for some of the more adventurous ones.”
            “Well, we’ve got a few of those!” The women laughed.
            Clarence found his way out of the bus as his children mixed with those from MarLinda and her sister families. He eventually met up with his wife and her friend.
            “Hello, MarLinda. Thank you so much for the invitation. Where’s Dan?”
            “Oh, he and my brother-in-law are hunting—it’s the doe antelope crossbow hunt this weekend and they got a tag. Here’s hoping!” MarLinda said as she held up two hands with multiple fingers crossed.
            “They’ll be back for the concert, right?” Clarence asked.
            “Yes, definitely,” MarLinda said. “I want you two to come in and meet my sister MarLisa Sorensen. I’ve told them all about you!”
            “Let’s go,” Mom said as they left the 24 children to socialize outside.

            Once dinner was served and everyone found their way into the expansive front room, Adam and Aaron came into the room. Aaron took a seat at the home’s piano while Adam carried a guitar.
            “Already, everyone!” Adam said. “Here’s the song my brother and I have been working on, but we’re going to need all of you to help us out. Are you guys game?” The reaction from the crowd told the brothers, yes.
            “Great!” Adam said. “We’ve come up with a song, but we’re going to need everyone to sing the chorus with us, so here it goes.
            Aaron and Adam began an instrumental compilation. No one in the room could deny their talent. Soon the time for the chorus was at hand.
            “Please don’t blame the children—it’s not their fault,
            They wouldn’t do this in their youth…
            When you see the children, take a look inside yourself,
            God’s the only one who knows the truth.”
            The group sang through the chorus a few times and the musical creators were pleased at the results.
            “That sounds great!” Adam said. He wanted to go through the chorus again, but his plan was derailed by Natalie.
            “Now that we’ve got the song portion down,” Natalie said to the audience. “Let’s talk presentation. Most of today’s performers don’t understand how presentation can overshadow the music. Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, James Taylor—all too flashy. For this show, I’m thinking less is more…” Natalie stopped speaking, all eyes remained on the oldest child. “MarLinda,” Natalie broke the silence. “I’ve got an idea for costumes, but I’m going to need your help.”
            “Natalie, let’s see what we’ve got in the clothes shed.” The two women began walking away.
            “MarLinda?” dad asked as they left. “Any word from Dan”
            “Oh, he called about an hour ago…looks like they’re going to be home tomorrow,” MarLinda said. “They got their antelope, but it ended up running off a cliff. They’ve got to try and get it in the morning.”
            “But, they’re still planning on making the show, right?”
            “That’s the plan,” MarLinda said as she and Natalie walked away.
            “Looks like the crossed fingers worked!” Dad said.
            “Always does!” MarLinda yelled back.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving, 2011 Edition...

 Thanksgiving, 2011

There are so many things to say about Thanksgiving, the words many times lose their meanings because we not only hear them so much, but because we say them so much as well. As I went about my day today, I snapped a few pictures. This year we had just our family (me, wife, kids, dog, cat, various ladybugs that have survived the winter by finding their way inside our house...). Of course, the day included more photo-worthy events, but these are the ones I got.


I had a few errands to run this morning and I noticed as I topped the hill on main street that I was the only car on the road. As you can see in this rear view shot--no one ahead of me and no one behind... (I was actually stopped as I snapped the pictures, for safety reasons and--as you can see--no one else was on the road).

If you look carefully, you'll see a lone hiker at Flag Rock (he/she is the little dot below and to the right of the flag pole). It was a beautiful day for a hike.

My wife has been cooking for three days. My daughter set the table about four hours before we had dinner. I believe she was extremely excited.

To add a sense of form and function to our holiday, my mother-in-law made us Thanksgiving turkeys made out of gloves. She bought gloves for each of us, sewed on the beaks and eyes and tied a ribbon around the fingers. And when the holiday is over, they can be used as winter gloves--quite the clever idea.

Here's Tom...he was delicious.

Here's the fixin's...they were delicious, too!

As I washed the ice cream maker, I looked out the kitchen window and saw the beginnings of another beautiful sunset. I grabbed my point-n-shoot Kodak and headed outside. As the sun set, the colors came more vibrant and I kept snapping away. One of the reasons I love where I live and love to live on the same spot on the mountain where I grew up are the incredible sunsets that we get. I mean, you've got a mountain, a lake and generally the right amount of pollution to create sometimes breathtakingly beautiful works of art. Tonight's proved a very appropriate way to end a day of thanks.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An E-Mail Of Thanks...

My Response To My Boss's E-Mail

Today, near the end of my shift, my boss sent an e-mail to my team reminding everyone of my upcoming birthday. I had some extra time (shifts around the holidays are famously slow where I work...). So, I decided to take a little time and thank him for his kind e-mail as well as let everyone know just what an amazing life I have. This is my response: 

I wish to take this opportunity to give thanks on the eve of the holiday dedicated to such things. As I toggle back and forth on e-rep pages, I thought I'd take a moment and express some feelings I have.

I want to thank (insert own religious and/or spiritual figure here so as not to offend anyone...) for somehow having me end up on the team on which I currently work. Joe and I have many times, thanked our lucky stars that we ended up on such a great team. And when we all agree that this team is the state's best, none of us can say this with even a sliver of doubt.

I am thankful for my family. Like all of you, there are amazing people in our lives without which we would not be the people we are today, and the fact I'm missing being able to spend Thanksgiving with my parents stands as a testament of just how wonderful they were. This goes to a basic belief I have: the more a person is missed when they're gone is in direct proportion to just how great they were when they were here. I'm going to have a great weekend with my wife and kids. It doesn't get any better than that.

The very nature of our jobs makes me realize of just how thankful I am for my health. We don't have to look very far to understand the magnitude of this statement.

I cannot include a list of thankful things without mentioning the country where we live. Regardless of how you stand politically--and again, I mean no offense with this--I feel the country in which we live can be a wonderful place to live and if its citizens will only remember to be good in their hearts, the county will continue to be beacon of hope for countless millions.

And finally, I want to thank Darren for making all the right decisions in his career that allows him to be our boss. When I was picked to be a part of his team, I knew of him, but didn't know him. My experience of being a supervisor for several years at work only increases my respect for his ability to keep all of our strong personalities in check. Of course, being human, Darren has his faults--an affinity to the color blue being the largest. But, if I were able to open his eyes and come over to the "Red" side, Cougar nation would loose one of there classiest fans, and I don't this to happen (because they have so few left). ;)

Thanks everyone for your birthday wishes! Thanks to those sacrificing "Black Friday" deals so the rest of us can either participate or recuperate or just remain in a vegetative state. Have a great weekend, everybody!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and hope we can give thanks for what we have the other 364 days of the year. Take care, everyone, and God bless.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

St. George...4

St. George, Part 4

            The family gathered around the kitchen table. Mom utilized every bit of the hamburger graciously given to the family by Nicki’s boyfriend and included it in the evening’s meal. After the blessing on the food, dad addressed the family.
            “Looks like we’ve got a concert day after tomorrow in St. George. I hope everyone’s ready to go.” The children’s reactions expressed both excitement and despair.
            “Now, now, everyone,” dad said. “I checked the calendar and there were no conflicts. I’ve got the bus tuned up and ready to go. I want all of you packed and ready to go by 6 a.m…” The moans from the children stopped the family patriarch in mid-speech.
            “Hey, you know we’ve got to leave early. The Larsen’s are expecting us around noon tomorrow. We're going to need time to check out the venue and go through the program a time or tow. Speaking of which,” dad turned to Adam. “We need a song.”
            Nathan spoke up as Adam’s brain began thinking about a new song for the family. “What’s the gig, dad” Mom answered his question.
            “It’s for a charity, Don’t Blame the Children…It’s Not Their Fault. MarLinda told me all about it.
            “Is that the Panguitch Larsens?” a knowing Natalie asked.
            “The very ones!” the proud mother responded.
            “What’s that charity about?” Nicki asked.
            “A portion of the city park was damaged in a flash flood last month in St. George and the city is blaming the children who play around a creek upstream from the park for causing the damage.”
            “How is it the kid’s fault?” This time the question came from April.
            “Well,” mom began. “MarLinda says every summer the kids dam up the creek to make a swimming hole—you know how hot it can get in St. George in the Summer, so who can blame them? Anyway, during the big storms they had last month a flash flood destroyed part of the park and some yahoo on the city council said if the kids hadn’t built the dam, the damage wouldn’t have happened.”
            “Maybe it was the kid’s fault,” Nathan said.
            “MarLinda doesn’t think so, and she’s never lied to me, so I believe her,” mom said.
            The family continued eating when Nicki interrupted. “Mom, since we’re going to be out-of-town this weekend, can Brad borrow the car?” Everyone at the table yelled in unison, “NO!”
            Dad brought the conversation back to the weekend trip. “Like I was saying, Adam—do you think you can whip us up something special for the event?”
            “You can count on me!” Adam said enthusiastically.
            “Can you pass me the salad Aaron?” April asked. “Since I don’t eat meat, I need something to eat.”
            “It’s too bad, April. This burger is really lean…”

Monday, November 21, 2011

St. George...3

St. George, Part 3

And so, the St. George story continues...

           Clarence left the house after the good, but somewhat gamey hamburger sandwich he had for lunch. He gathered his set of tools from the garage and headed across the backyard to the large bus the family used to shuttle the group back and forth to the various gigs. The bus needed some work.
            As Clarence crossed the yard, he came upon his youngest daughter, Ashley and a friend, hanging out on the family swing set.
            “Hey Peanut!”
            “Hey, dad,” Ashley replied.
            “Who’s you friend,” Clarence asked. The friend looked somewhat familiar, but he wasn’t sure.
            “This is Laurie Nielsen,” Ashley said somewhat confused. “They live next door.” The statement held a hint of a question.
            “You do?” Clarence said to Laurie. After a pause he said, “I thought your family moved last year.”
            “No,” Laurie said pointed to the roof of her house seen above the wood fence that separated the neighbor’s lots. “We still live right there.”
            “Huh…” Clarence said as he left to attend to the large former school bus now decorated as a mobile billboard for the singing group.
            “Don’t take this the wrong way,” Laurie said to her friend. “But, your dad’s a little weird. We’ve lived next door to your family since 2002.”
            “You don’t have to tell me…I know he’s weird,” Ashley replied.
            A lull in the conversation brought on by each girl thinking of the man now repairing the bus in different ways caused the two girls to simultaneously leave the whimsical swing set and they begin walking slowly to the other side of the backyard. The girls stopped before a large piece of machinery located directly in the middle of the yard.
            “So, what is this thing again?” Laurie asked pointing to the ominous-looking contraption.
            “That’s one of dad’s inventions,” Ashley said with a sigh.
            “What’s it do?”
            “It was supposed to turn old car tires into scrapbook stamps.”
            “Wait,” Laurie said suddenly remembering something. “Is that the thing that destroyed that section of the fence over there?” Laurie pointed to an obviously newer section of wood fencing.
            “Yeah, that’s the one.”
            “My dad never told me what happened and said I shouldn’t ask,” Laurie said, a bit of hesitancy in her voice. “What did happen, anyway?” Laurie asked in almost a whisper.
            “Dad would take a tire and put in into that end,” Ashley said pointing to one end of the machine. “But when he turned it on, it didn’t make scrapbook stamps. It blew the tire and half the machine across the yard and destroyed the fence. I remember it almost hit your dad—he was working in your backyard.”
            “I guess he was lucky,” Laurie said as both the girls stared at the failed invention.
            “Yeah,” Ashley concurred.
            The two continued looking at the machine when Laurie said, “Why was your dad trying to make scrapbook stamps anyway?”
            “He said he wanted to solve two of mankind’s greatest scourges…used tires and affordable scrapbook stamps. He thought it was the perfect device.”
            “So, it died right here,” Laurie said.
            “Yeah, but dad tried to sell the design to either the army or Greenpeace. There were no takers.”
            Ashley turned and pointed to a spot in the corner of the yard. But dad did end up doing something with the tires. See.” Laurie followed to where her friend pointed.
            “Dad ended up making a playhouse out of what we had left.”
            “Is that what that is?” Laurie gasped. “I’ve always wondered…just looked like a pile of tires to me.”
            “That’s basically what it is,” Ashley said.
            “You ever play in there?”
            “Not during mosquito season.” With nothing left to say, the friends left the yard for further adventures.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

7-Year Old Art (The Artist, Not The Art...)

 Oh, What Do You Do In Sacrament Meeting... was one of the breakthroughs that happened to our youngest son many years ago. We found when we put a piece of paper in front of him around age 2 or 3, he calmed down and began drawing. It was amazing. Of course, we thought he was the next Monet and we even bought one of those multi-colored easels that look so cool at Kids R Us, but are ignored once they're home and put together. He did use it, but not very much.

For the past two weeks we decided to have him bring crayons and paper to church to keep him busy during Sacrament meeting. Here's this afternoon's output (he can be very prolific).

I asked my son about the pictures (you know, to get the artist's perspective...) and here's what he told me.

Basically, all the pictures (or most of them, anyway...) deal with a house and firefighters. I'm sure I didn't need to tell you this for the genius of the art is evident, but I thought I would just in case... In this picture (immediately above) you'll see a firefighter (bottom-lower, just right of center). The lines are lines of water.

In the second picture, we find ourselves in the bedroom. That thing lying near the bottom of the page is a sleeping child. To the child's left, a brave firefighter shoots a jet of water up and to the left to put out the flaming wall of fire and saving the sleeping child below.

Next, we're in the living room. Why is there so much blue on the ceiling of the living room? I asked the artist the same thing. I was told the blue on the ceiling is all the water from the bedroom (apparently, the bedroom is directly above the living room...).

Here we see the kitchen surrounded by flames. There's a helpless family member in the lower left on the page. Thankfully, a brave firefighter attacks the fire from the bottom right. Just witnessing the jet of water shooting to the heart of the inferno makes my little parent heart sing.

I asked the artist what this was...a barbecue, a tent, a hanging string of lights, perhaps? "No," he said. "That's a roller coaster." Why, naturally... (and for the record, we have no roller coaster at our house).

Apparently, the "giant ride" theme continued. What you see before you is a huge slide, but the slide is on fire (I guess you can mix artistic themes...). There's a child atop the huge slide. This same child is also seen at the bottom of the slide where a valiant firefighter sames the child from the boiling lava field below. How heroic!

This last rendering shows us many things. It is, again, another slide drawing. There are three firefighters in the picture. The upper left civil servant is fighting the metal (?). Next to him we see a brave soul fighting electricity. And the firefighter just below and to the right of center is using his skills to put out once and for all the deadly lava field that awaits those unfortunate enough to find his/her way to the slide's end. Very dramatic... so raw... so corny... so real. I can hardly wait to see what next Sunday brings...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Grandpa & Me...

I took a trip to the store with one of my sons this afternoon and the way he was dressed reminded me of a photo of me and my grandfather.

I look to be about six or seven years old when this picture was taken. When I was young I was small for my age (sometimes the shortest one in my entire class...). I know I wasn't older than 10-years old in this picture because my grandfather died before I turned 10. 

The funniest thing about this picture--to me--is that I remember that coat. I'm pretty sure my mom made the shirt, and those pants...well, you can't buy those just anywhere.

I remember other things in this picture as well. That lamp that hung above the couch. I remember that. Grandpa had furniture expected in a widowed diary farmer's house--very simple and humble. Just to the left (my left in the picture...) an archway led into the kitchen where a huge stove doubled as the thing that cooked the food and warmed the house. Unfortunately, the stove worked well for the former and terrible for the latter. That was the coldest house I've ever been in.

This may be the only picture I have with me and my grandfather. And, he was the only grandfather I ever fact, he was the only grandparent I ever knew. My mother's mother (mormor in Danish...) passed away before I was born and my mom never met her in-laws. They died before she met my dad. It's still hard to believe that my father's father (farfar in Danish...) was born in the 1880's.

Today my son was standing in the isle looking for a gift and I knew I had today's blog post topic. I wonder if I'll get to stand and have a picture with my grandson. I hope so. If I do, I'm sure I'll again be the one dressed in the memorable clothes...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Christmas Present From A U of U Fan...

As I look out my bedroom window tonight I see snow on the lawn and a shiny black road beyond. A week from tonight, at this same hour, I suspect I'll be eating (or at least have access to...) delicious leftover turkey and the trimmings that accompany such a meal. Of course, there will have been football watched and work left undone at the office. It's a great time of the year.

Many have put up their Christmas decorations and lights (us included...), but are the lights officially "up" if they're not turned on? I guess it's a question for the ages...

I took my son to his Friday afternoon writing class and on the way home, I saw the above sign. The sign is at the location where we've bought Christmas trees for the past couple of years. Last year, we delayed picking out the tree until a week or so before Christmas Day. The kids love picking out trees and each child determines which tree they would like--some opinions stronger than others. And we as parents, try to limit the height, width, and girth of the tree to one we can afford.

We picked out a tree and were about to pay for it when a man who had chosen and bought his tree a few minutes before us came over and said, "I want to buy that tree," and pointed to the one we had just chosen. Since we had picked a number of potential trees, I thought if he really wanted it, that's fine...we'll just choose the next one we eyed. I think I told him it was okay and we'd find another one.

"No," he said a little embarrassed. "You don't understand. I want to buy this tree for you, if that's okay with you guys." It took a second for me to realize what he was doing, that he was buying our tree as a Christmas present to a family he'd never met before and most likely, will never meet again (at least in this life...). He paid the bill, joined his family in their big Chevy truck--complete with a University of Utah sticker on the back window--and drove away (University of Utah fans are among the best fans in the world, by the way...). Even though we've been blessed by bigger presents in the past, it was one of the coolest things that someone has ever done for our family.

I hope this year I can remember this act, and who knows? Maybe we'll be able to do something similar this year. After all, A Utah man am I...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

St. George...2

Here's more of the beginning scene I started yesterday. If you have any input, I'd love any feedback (all writers CRAVE feedback...). And the picture really doesn't have anything to do with the story...

St. George...Continued

            “And be sure to be back by 4—I’ve got to pick up your brother from practice!” Molly yelled mostly to a closed front door. By the time the last words left her mother’s mouth Nicki already had the key turned in the ignition, the aging transmission in gear, and her right food pushed to the floor. In a few minutes she’d be with Brad and the thought allowed a small gleeful sound to escape her excited lips.
            The sound of the door closing and the car rapidly leaving brought Molly back to reality. Oh! The phone, the mother thought and she brought the phone up to her ear. “MarLinda,” Molly said apologetically. “I’m so sorry about that. Yes, that was Nicki…” Molly paused as her friend spoke. “How did you hear about Brad?”

            Just as Molly hung up the phone and thought of spending time with their friend and past next-door-neighbor, Clarence opened the door to the home’s basement where the family father kept his office and chemical laboratory. Molly welcomed the interruption from a half-finished load of dirty dishes.
            “Mother?” Clarence asked. “Do we have a cat?”
            “A cat? Heaven’s no!” Molly replied with a laugh.
            “That’s good,” Clarence said relieved.
            “Speaking of good,” Molly said instantly upbeat. “I just got a call from the Larsens in St. George.”
            The look the husband gave his wife told her of his confusion. “The Larsens?” Clarence said. “Which ones?”
            “You know, the Larsens…Dan and MarLinda…” Molly was sure her husband would recognize them now. A further look from Clarence told her no.
            “No…oh no, not that Dan and MarLinda…Dan and MarLinda from Panguitch. The twinkle in her husband’s eyes told Molly communication had occurred.
            “So, how are they doing? Haven’t seen them in, what…10 years or so?” Clarence said as he grabbed one of a few remaining clean glasses from the cupboard and got himself a glass of lukewarm tap water.
            “About that,” Molly said. “They’re doing great! And,” Molly paused for effect. “They have eight kids, too!”
            “Wonderful…good thing someone other than us are multiplying and replenishing the earth.” The phrase always made Clarence chuckle. This time proved no different.
            “Actually, they called to see if we were busy this weekend. They would like us to perform at a fund raiser they’re having in St. George.”
            Clarence uttered a grunt as he downed the water while walking to the fridge. With the water gone, Clarence said, “Well, let’s just check the schedule, shall we?” Clarence he peered over his thick glasses and smoothed back his graying hair with his free hand. He then looked at the same piece of paper hanging on the fridge that his wife eyed only minutes before.
            “Looks like we’re available!” Clarence proclaimed.
            “That’s what I told them,” Molly beamed back.
            “Why don’t you call her back and tell her it’s a deal?!” Clarence moved to the kitchen table and lowered himself with an audible expulsion of air from his lungs. “After lunch, I’ll go get the bus ready for the trip. Speaking of which, what’s for lunch?” he asked his wife before she could pick up the phone and dial her once-close friend.
            “Well,” Molly said as she opened the refrigerator door. “Nicki brought back some hamburger after her date with Brad last night.”
            “That sounds great!” Clarence’s day was looking up after all.

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

St. George Trip...The Beginning Scene


The phone rang and Molly picked it up. “Hello?” the mother of eight said into the phone. “Yes, this is she…Oh! Hello, MarLinda! How are you?” The woman’s voice carried through the nearly empty house, the inhabitants finding other things to do on the beautiful summer morning.
            “A show? Of course…please tell me more.” Molly continued speaking to her friend unaware that her third child lurked just behind the shadows of the hall.
            “This weekend? Let’s just see what we’ve got going on…” Molly, with cordless phone in hand, walked around the semi-cluttered counter to the refrigerator where a simple piece of paper lay stuck to the metal surface of the fridge with the help of a colorful magnet. The words: “Performance Calendar” was lovingly drawn with a pink Sharpie across the top of the slightly blemished paper.
            “Good news,” Molly proclaimed. This weekend looks free for us! If we can make it, I can’t wait to see you and Dan and the kids!”
            Molly kept speaking and Nicki emerged from the hall to interrupt her mother.
            “Mom,” Nicki said using a voice reserved for times when the 23-year old wanted something from her mother. “Can I please borrow the car?”
            Molly placed her hand over the phone’s microphone and whispered, “I’m on the phone, sweetie…”
            Undeterred, Nicki continued. “Will you be long?”
            “I don’t know…I’m talking to an old friend and I’m booking a gig in St. George.”
            The words stopped Nicki cold.
            “St. George? What gig? When?” This time Nicki’s sense of consideration for her mom and her mom’s friend disappeared.
            “MarLinda,” Molly said somewhat embarrassed. “I'm sorry MarLinda, can you hold please? Thank you...” Molly lowered the phone, her hand stopping any noise from reaching MarLinda. “Nikki, I can't talk to you now because I'm on the phone. The show—if we do it—is in St. George this Saturday. I haven't decided yet if we can do it.”
            The reason for the change in Nicki’s demeanor became apparent.
            “Mom, you know Brad's family is going to their cabin this month sometime. He's asked me to go with them—remember? I told you about that.”
            Molly gave her second-oldest daughter a look she had given her many times over the past two decades.
            “Now Nicki,” Molly said in a stern but gentle, motherly manner. “I’m not sure if I want you to be going out with Brad…I’m not sure his intentions are honorable.”
            Nicki pondered how best to respond to her mother’s obvious spot-on observation. Just as Molly was about to bring the phone back to her face, Nicki’s 12-year old sister Ashley came into the room.
            “Brad’s a jerk!” Ashley said letting the other women in the room know she had heard at least part of their conversation.
            “Oh, little sister…once you become a woman, you’ll understand what love is all about.”
            “I’m not a woman yet, but I’m old enough to know he’s a jerk.” Ashley grabbed an apple from a fruit bowl and left the room.
            Nicki turned her attention back to her mother, the person in possession of the coveted car keys.
            “Honey, Molly said. “Why do you need the car?”
            “Brad just called me from work and he wants to take me out.”
            “Take you out, huh? Doesn’t he just need a ride somewhere?”
            Nicki looked down. How did her mother know so much, she thought to herself. “Maybe,” Nicki said shyly.
            “Nicki, doesn’t Brad work as a car salesman?”
            “Yes,” Nicki said, pretty sure she knew what her mother was getting at.
            “And don’t the car salesmans get to drive the cars they try to sell?”
            “Usually yes, but hitting five deer in four days in downtown Salt Lake City isn’t as unusual as it sounds…”
            “Uh huh…” Molly said. “I’m going to stop you right there. Where does he need to go.”
            Nicki hesitated, unsure whether or not to proceed. Somehow she knew her mother had figured it all out anyway.
            “He’s got to go see…a taxidermist.”
            “Alright,” Molly said finally raising the phone and digging into her pant’s pocket to retrieve the car keys. “But no deer carcasses in the trunk—I’m not going through that again.”
            An instant after the keys made their appearance, Nicki snapped them up. “Thanks Mom!” she said and she kissed her mother on the cheek almost hitting the phone. With keys in hand, the young woman vanished out of the kitchen and through the front door.