Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sunsets In July...

Maybe it was the forest fires, or that the sun began setting around the same time the kids got ready for bed. Whatever the reason, I took a lot of pictures of sunsets this month. And I'd say I do all of them an injustice by my little point-and-shoot. They were spectacular.

All but two of these pictures were taken from my house. One was from Island Park, Idaho, and the other in the neighborhood a mile or so north. Many people took pictures of these sunsets along the Wasatch Front and posted them on social networks and I know why. They changed people, in a way. Somehow a sunset affects us as these did for me.

If you were lucky enough to see some of these, here's a reminder. If not, maybe these will do.

Monday, July 30, 2012

My Son, Our Cat, And A Leaning Tree...

On December 1, 2011 we had an east wind blow through our neighborhood, a wind that destroyed roofs, vinyl fences, unlucky semitrailers, and lots and lots of trees. I blogged about the event several times last year and you can read about the big wind HERE, HERE, and HERE. It was a spectacular thing.

Fast forward almost eight months and effects of that same storm can still be seen. There are buildings still waiting for their roofs to be repaired. Some fences are not yet rebuilt, and at least one tree is slowly falling over, that tree is just down the street from where we live. Last night my son (and one of our cats...) followed me on a walk to take a few pictures.

It's sad to see decade's old trees slowly fall to their deaths. This particular tree survived the initial blast, but the ground under it was compromised so now the tree is actually leaning in the opposite direction of how the wind blew that day.

I suspect one day soon I'll come back from work and the 40+ feet tall tree will be down and another sentinel will be gone. I wonder if they'll plant a new tree to take its place. And if they do, I wonder if my son will one day remember the time he and his dad (and the cat...) took a little walk on a warm summer Sunday night to take a look at a falling tree.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Skype...It's The Future!

For as long as I can remember (and before Marty McFly came along...), people always thought the future meant flying cars. There is a flying car out there now, but in truth, it's more like a plane that can be driven on the road than a car that can fly.

Another indicator that we had officially reached the future was the advent of a working video phone. There have been video phones for years, but if you've ever seen the movie, "Mother," a classic from the comedic genius of Albert Brooks, you know the drawbacks of that early video phone.

Enter Skype. I never had the need to use Skype until I began podcasting. I just downloaded the program, followed the instructions and I was good to go. Tonight we had family from out of town visiting. After dinner they skyped their daughter on their iPad. It was a bonafide, honest to goodness video phone. You could see them; they could see you. There's a slight delay, but it's not worth worrying about. It works so well.


"It's amazing that you can just make a call and see the people on the other side of the world, and it's a free call." I told my mother-in-law. She agreed with me how cool the amazing technology is. My kids loved seeing and talking to the kids on the iPad screen. I'm sure in their world, a working video phone is a normal as 500+ channels on cable.


We don't have flying cars, yet. But the future is here and its name is Skype.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Davis High Track...Tradition

A few weeks ago I attended a parade (and even made a movie trailer about it...you can read the article and see the trailer: HERE). At the parade, they passed out copies of the Davis County Clipper, a paper for which I used to work as a reporter. And  in that paper were several articles about Davis High School. For good reason.

Davis High School is kind of a powerhouse when it comes to sports. I'm not saying they dominate in every sport. They don't. Last year Davis teams played in several state finals and they finished second in most of them. The fact they made it to the finals in most state high school sports is quite an accomplishment.

This year Davis took state in both boy's and girl's track. Back in the day I ran track--I wasn't very good--but I loved it. Davis had some of the best talent in the state back then. Looks like the tradition continues.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Jeffrey, The Scoutmaster...

There are certain men who can truly be called "scoutmaster." They wear the mantle well. I was called to be a scoutmaster and it was tough, but I only fulfilled that calling for a few months. Luckily, I was replaced by someone else, someone who does a fantastic job. Two of my boys have been fortunate enough to have Jeffrey as their scoutmaster. 

I've got another son who is currently seven years old. I kid with Jeffrey that he needs to remain the scoutmaster until my youngest is at least 14. If that happens Jeffrey would be the scoutmaster for over 12 years. I don't think that's going to happen...

A few weeks ago I went with the scouts to their summer camp. Jeffrey, this is for you!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Countertop S'Mores...

27 years ago I lived in Europe and when I lived in Europe, I used to make s'mores inside my apartment. This was no easy feat. The problem back then was not roasting a marshmallow over a candle, but finding marshmallows in the first place. They were hard to come by and when we finally found some, they had a weird flavor. Finding the gram cracker and chocolate was no problem at all--we found a cracker with chocolate on the bottom.

Which brings us to what we did to celebrate the 24th of July. It's a state holiday where I live and we decided to make s'mores. Once again, the marshmallows proved to be the hardest part. My children have food allergies so my oldest son decided to make homemade marshmallows. He did a wonderful job.

We had the ingredients, now all we needed was a flame. We live on a mountain, close to dry vegetation and we were not allowed to light fireworks where we live (a tradition on our state holiday...) so we reasoned it's probably not a good idea to have a fire outside over which we would roast our homemade marshmallows. I remembered my Europe days and we decided to roast the marshmallows over candles.

All in all, the countertop s'more experiment turned out to be a great success! I was worried a flaming marshmallow might engage the smoke alarm--at best, and/or burn down the house--at worst. We had neither. Will we do the same thing next 24th of July? We just might...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Phone Call In The Suburbs, A Short Story...

Another Writer Wednesday Blog Hop Story

The last couple of weeks, the picture and words used for the weekly writing prompt have been challenging. This week's picture and words to use are challenging as well, but in a different way--it's a more "normal" photo.

The Rules again: must use the above picture in the story, the story can only be 500 words or less, the story must be linked to their website (located: HERE) and the following five words must be inserted in the story. This week's words are:


It's all in good fun. If you want to give it a try, please do! They're as much fun to read as they are to write. Enjoy!

Phone Call In The Suburbs

           “Hello?” an exhausted Penney Lewis said after lunging at the phone on what had to be the call’s last ring. Uh oh, Penney thought as no one immediately responded. Had she not been putting down the baby for its afternoon nap, she could have glanced at the Caller I.D. information, but she was expecting a call from her husband who promised to call each day he was out of town (she just loved his devotion…).
          I should just hang up, Penney thought, but a voice stopped her.
          “Miss Lewis?”
          “This is Mrs. Lewis,” Penney shot back with words dusted with just the right amount of acridity.
          “Yes, of course, I am so sorry, my mom always told me….” As the man continued to apologize Penney turned the handset and glanced at the digital information ablaze on the phone’s small display window and was shocked to see the words, Tom McCaffry For Senate. Penney returned the phone to her right ear.
          “…so I understand if you don’t have the time to talk right now.”
          “Oh, no…I definitely have the time.”
          “That’s good. My name’s Steve Barnes and I work for the Elect Tom McCaffry committee.
          “Hello, Steve.”
          “Ah, hello back,” Steve said with a small chuckle. “Like I mentioned, I work for the McCaffry campaign and I’d like to ask you a few questions.”
          “Shoot, Steve…what cha got?” Penney said as she took a seat at the family’s kitchen table.
           “Ok. I don’t know how much you know of Mr. McCaffry’s opponent, but Chad Lewis has released several statements that are basically untrue. He’s spread smear attack after smear attack at Mr. McCaffry’s reputation.”
          “I’m not really that political, Steve,” Penney said with a smile.
          “I understand. If I didn’t have this job, I wouldn’t be either,” Steve’s counterfeit claim was not believed by neither Steve nor Penney. “The best way to get educated on the subject is to go to our website, www.McCaffryforSenate.com and read all about it.”
          “Oh, I will—you can be sure of that!”
          “Excellent!” Steve said genuinely pleased that his call may prove worthwhile after all. “And Mrs. Lewis, how would you feel about placing a “McCaffry for Senate” sign in your yard?”
          “I might have to draw the line at that,” Penney said trying desperately hard not to bust out laughing. We live in the suburbs and a sign like that might produce a heckle or two from some of my neighbors. Many here are Lewis supporters.”
          “Well, if you change your mind, go to the website and just order one. We’ll get it right out to your hou…” Steve’s voice was interrupted by two beeps. Penney knew it was her husband calling.
          “Steve? I’m sorry I’ve got to go. My husband Chad is calling and I’m sure he’ll be very interested in your call.”
          “Chad? You’re husband’s name is Chad?”
          “That’s right, honey. You have a good day now.” Penney clicked the phone. “Chad—you won’t believe who just called.”

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Podcast: Michelle Davidson Argyle Reads From BONDED

The 3rd installment of the A Page Or Two Podcast is here! I was lucky enough to somehow persuade Michelle Davidson Argyle to read from Scales, a section of her upcoming book, Bonded. I want to thank Michelle for taking time out of her day to read a page or two of her book for us.
Just head on over to my other blog, THE BALD CHRONICLER and have a good listen, or click HERE to hear. And check her website: HERE for more information about the upcoming release of her book Bonded this November.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Visitor This Time...

Today I returned to a building where I worked for 10 years. It's the longest time I've ever spent working in one place. It's longer than I attended any school. It's longer than I've spent in any other building, except for the house where I grew up. And I was no longer allowed in without a "Visitor" badge.

It's understandable, the badge and the security in the building is warranted. It's a place where the state's largest department has its headquarters. Many important decisions are made among its floors. A man paid to wear a badge and a gun guards its entrance. 

I've returned to the building several times, each time I see many with whom I worked and many I've never seen before. There are a lot of memories in that building, some bad, a few terrible, but most good. I suppose it's like anything, a person can never really go back to the way it was before. Mr. Henley had it right. "Don't look back. You can never go back."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sgt. Donald Ralph Walters...

At my son's scout camp (at which I was lucky enough to attend...) we had a flag. That's not unusual for a scout troop to have a posted flag at camp. This flag was purchased from an event honoring fallen US soldiers and those who died on 9-11. 

One of the leaders went to that event honoring those who passed. After the service the public was given the opportunity to buy the flags. Each flag had a yellow ribbon on it with the name of one of these people. The leader picked up a flag and donated it to the troop. The name on the flag is Sgt. Donald Ralph Walters.

Sgt. Walters grew up in Colorado, but moved to Oregon as a teenager. According to the Military Times website honoring Sgt. Walters, he had a premonition that he would not be returning from his assignment. He was a father and soldier and he died in an Iraqi prison. Of course, a site can't even come close to describing the man he must have been.

I read the name at camp and his name was just that...a name. Not any more. I hope some of those scouts take the time to learn at least a little bit about Sgt. Walters because they should. He deserves at least that much. Thank you Sgt. Walker for giving all.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Brooch, The Subject...

Colorful Calliope in Asbury Park

It's time again for the Weekly Writing Prompt! (trumpets sounding...) When I first found Nicole's site (it can be found: HERE), I would write my story (sometimes, stories...) that very day. Lately, however, life has hindered me somewhat. Here's this week's tale taken from the above picture and these five words:

Other rules, one week to write the story, 500 word limit, and it must be linked to Nicole's and Carrie's sites. Enjoy!

Brooch, The Subject…

Amy Turner —teacher, not student—sat alone in her 5th grade classroom long after the last bell rang dismissing both child and adult alike. She had but a few more papers to grade and then she too could leave the edifice built for the pursuit of knowledge. The middle-aged woman slowly took off her reading glasses and rubbed the indented spaces caused by the nose pads in a vain attempt to remove them from her tired face. Her efforts proved unsuccessful.
“Let’s see,” Amy said to the silence. “Peter Hopkins…I wonder what he has for me today.” Amy returned the glasses and shook the papers causing them to stand erect in her hand; the sound made by the papers was the only noise audible not only in her room, but most of the school as well. “This ought to be good.”
For Amy, Peter Hopkins proved time and time again, the proverbial bane of her existence. Can’t really blame him, Amy thought. His mother worked swing and graveyard shifts as a nurse and his dad was “who knows where?” When Peter was working hard on Amy’s remaining nerve, she had to remember not every childhood was idyllic.

Interesting title, Amy thought. She wondered if Peter even knew what a brooch was. Very few of today’s kids, and especially not the boys, seemed to have an interest in anything other than cell phones and video games.  


The first time my Grandpa Hopkins saw Annabelle Jespersen he knew he would        someday marry her. They met at the county fair. Grandpa ran the calliope and he told me…

“What the…” Amy stopped reading. “Seriously child? A calliope?” She hadn’t seen the word in three decades, let alone be used by a 10-year old struggling student. The boy even included a picture on the second page, a picture downloaded from the internet, just in case she didn’t know what the word meant. The calliope appeared to be in some sort of antique shop. Amy read on.

…that once he saw her, the music from the steam organ (music that usually drove him crazy) never sounded sweeter. From that day on, she was his pride and joy.

The teacher finished the short, sweet story. Peter described how his grandfather bought his future bride a brooch and gave it to her on the night they first met—the same brooch he placed in her casket just before they lowered her body into the ground.
Amy put down the papers and opened her purse. She took out a photo collection, old pictures incased in aging, yellowing plastic. From the pictures Amy withdrew a singular photo; it was her favorite. The lonely teacher looked at the picture of herself and her grandfather, back when she was six-years old and her grandfather was alive and healthy.
“Peter,” Amy said as tears welled up on her eyes. “That little cockroach made me cry.”

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Camp Of Firsts...

I’ve never attended a scout camp in Island Park, Idaho, but if given the opportunity to do so again, I’d jump at it. I’ve never slept for four straight days in my van (never slept one day in the van…). And I’ve never seen so many eagles flying before.



My son has had a camp of firsts, too. He’s never ridden a horse. He’s never swum in a lake and he’s never been pulled on a tube by a boat.

My sons and I have done camps before, but this one was different. I’ve never regretted going to any of them and this camp continued the tradition.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Canoe…The Perfect Boat

 As a kid whenever we went on a family outing (on my mother’s side of the family…) a canoe always seemed to be part of the fun. My mom’s brothers had canoes and it was a rare event when we didn’t have them with us (anyone remember the Great Canoe Race?). We did a lot of camping and hiking whenever we got together, and we did a lot of canoeing.

Now I’m not completely sure if I can attribute this quote to my Uncle Arlin, but I’m pretty sure he said it. And if he didn’t say it, he would agree with it. A canoe is probably the most perfect boat ever designed by man (the ark doesn’t count—it was designed by someone else…).

An experienced canoeist can glide across a lake of glass-smooth water silently. A canoe can be put on almost any car ever made, and it doesn’t cost a ramp fee to get it into the water. A canoe can be propelled by one person, or two or even more. It can ferry cargo. It can be powered by a motor or just with oars. You can fish from it, run rapids in it, and admire its symmetrical beauty.

Whether or not my uncle said it, it is absolutely true. A canoe is a perfect boat. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Son, The Archer...

I guess when you're a dad and you stop learning something new every day about your kids, something might be wrong. This morning I watched my son take a shot (or several...) at a target with a bow and arrow. I was impressed. Now I'm not saying he was a prodigy, or any thing like that. But I'm also not saying he's not. All I know is I watched him stand still, steady the bow, aim and fire. The kids were earning their archery merit badge and my son did pretty well.

So what was my first thought? I should probably run out and buy him a bow so he can practice and practice all day, all week, all month. He's sure to make the Olympic team in 2016...Okay, I didn't actually think that, but the thought of finding him a bow did cross my mind. I asked him if he wanted us to find him a bow for him (I wonder if you can find a bow at the D.I...probably not). He shrugged his shoulders and gave me the "I don't know" look.

This may end up being a one-time thing. I mean, he's earned his badge. Does he really need to shoot an arrow ever again in his life? Maybe...maybe...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hospital Food...

I work in a location where a person can walk, within a relatively short period of time, to any number of eating establishments, and if in a car, truck, or motorcycle, that same person can eat almost any type of food in any price range.

So why do we go to the hospital for lunch? I mean, who voluntarily eats hospital food? Like airline food hospital food is the butt of many a culinary joke. Just across the street from where I work is a hospital and inside the hospital is a cafeteria. A couple of co-workers have been going to the hospital for lunch for about a year. Many times they pick up breakfast as well...

Me? I eat breakfast at my desk and usually bring left-overs from home for lunch, but on occasion I have joined the group and bought lunch. Today was one of those days. The cafeteria has a hot plate station, a sandwich station, a soup station as well as pre-made meals. Today...today was a soup day, and the soup was good. Now, I don't know if the food they give the paying customers is the same food given to the patients and paid by various insurance companies. If it is, then maybe hospital food doesn't deserve its reputation. At least, not in the one we go to.

Monday, July 16, 2012

But Will You Buy It?

Shopping. We needed to get some shopping done tonight and on my way back from the frozen vegetables at Harmons, I noticed a table full of "promotional items." I asked myself as I stopped and took a few pictures, does a catchy saying or shinny colors really help to move the products?

The table included such items as aprons, garnish tables, pie tins, plates and cups. There were other things, but they didn't strike my fancy (I guess I wouldn't even think about buying those...). 

Could I use an apron on the rare (no pun intended...) occasion that I do grill? Probably. But unless we're "entertaining" eaters other than my family, I would probably never wear it. So, the catch saying on the apron makes sense for some, I suppose.

"Let's Eat" plates and "What Happens At The Barbecue Stays At The Barbecue" cups...I mean, they're cute, but...no, not for me. Maybe my kids would like them--pretty sure they would.

One thing that did catch my eye (but not for the price--even after the savings is factored into the decision...) was the American Apply Pie plate. Nice. It has a recipe printed right on the plate. So, in the end, it's a very expensive recipe. Might make a nice wedding present, though...