Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Lights 2012, Home Edition...

We have a great house for Christmas lights. Of course, if I were braver, it would look even better. When we built the house almost 10 years ago a friend suggested we put power outlets on the eves of the room for Christmas lights. We have four outlets, but we've only ever used one. One seems to be enough, for now.



I asked my kids to help put up the lights. My daughter came out and helped take the lights out of the boxes and hand them to me while I stood on the ladder. My oldest son also helped...he made me a sandwich for lunch (yum...). 

I handed my daughter my camera and she took a picture of our indoor cat (who occasionally goes outside...) on top of our shed. She also snapped a picture of me.

I don't know how many, but years ago my in-laws give us a starter pine tree. I swear the thing was only a few inches tall when we planted it. Now, like our kids, it's very tall. I needed a paint brush extender to guide the strings of lights around the thing. It worked quite well.

Last year we bought around 1300 lights either after Christmas or right before. I'm not sure, but I do know that they had not been used before. So this year's display is our most luminous. I don't think I'll ever be one to outdo myself (or my neighbors...) each year for Christmas decorating. But, if one day we have the means, I may pay someone to go and use those remaining three power outlets and really put on a show...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Drinkwell, The Original Pet Fountain...

You know you've done see something on TV or the interwebs, or in a catalog and you think...I've gotta have that! And so you buy it and set it up and think...Now, my troubles are over!

What was our need that required fixing? Our cat would beg us to turn on the water in the tub so he could get a drink. Enter the Drinkwell, The Original Pet Fountain. We put it together, filled it with water, plugged it in and watched as our cat actually drank from the thing! Success!

Or so we thought. After a while the cat used the Drinkwell less and less. It turns out the cat didn't use it if the water stayed in the fountain too long. Now, the Drinkwell is designed with a water filter built-in which should clean the water so each drink would be as fresh as if the cat is drinking from a newly melted glacier (okay, I made that part up...). 

Occasionally, the cat will utilize the special present that is the Drinkwell. But there are times, like this evening, when the cat needs his water from the tub. I mean, cat's gotta be real...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The New Neighborhood Christmas Tree...

Last year, almost to the day, our town lost  a symbol of its people. Hurricane-strength winds roared through our community leaving homes damaged, power outages, and trees...many, many trees destroyed. I blogged about the storm and if you're interested in reading about it, go: HERE.

Though many trees fell, none had a bigger impact on the community as a whole as did the Christmas tree near the city cemetery. Of course, for 11 months of the year, it was just a huge pine tree. After Thanksgiving, however, it transformed to this huge symbol of the season that could be seen clearly from miles away. I can still remember driving home late one day and seeing the tree thinking, I should really go take a picture of the tree. The next day it was gone. Here's what it looked like the day of the storm.

The family, more than anyone, was devastated. Each time during the past year I drove by the house, the space where the tree once stood called out to all of its loneliness.

Two weeks ago I noticed the space was gone and where the tree once proudly stood, a new, albeit much smaller, tree took its place. Driving home from the show I noticed the family had decorated it. 

The new tree is not as stately or as grand, but it must have cost a pretty penny for the family to relocate a mature pine tree to their yard. The new tree will, hopefully, remain for years and become, once again, something the community can see and know that the Christmas season really never starts until the big pine tree by the city cemetery is ablaze with holiday lights. I'm glad it's back.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 28, 1965...

About 12 years ago I decided to contact the adoption agency that handled my placement when I was born. I called them up and asked them to send me any information they had on me when I was just a wee baby. I did this mostly not to find out who my birth parents were, but more to get any health information on them. We had three children at the time and I thought it would be nice to know something of my birth parent's backgrounds.

Turns out, the agency had a little bit of information on them. The agency sent back a page and a half of information that told of my mother's and father's backgrounds, a little of their ethnic makeup, and some of their physical features. This was all new information and I found it fascinating.

I kept reading until I came to the information about my birth. Right there in the middle of the document it said: Scott, you were born on November 28, 1965.

Wait...what? I read that again. November 28, 1965. So, which was it? Was I born on the 28th, or the 27th as I had always assumed to be my correct birthday? Now, verifying a birthday is a fairly easy thing to do. All I had to do was look at my birth certificate, but there was a moment when I wondered if knowledge that I had believed all my life was wrong. I know it was just the difference of one day, but was strange. I mean, I'm a November 27 kind of guy. Not to disparage anyone born on November 28. I'm sure that any of you born on that day means you're a November 28th kind of guy/gal.

The agency had made a typo on the report. They got it wrong. I guess had I actually been born on the 28th of November, 1965 I would have gotten used to it, but secretly I think I would still like the 27th's just who I am.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Experiement Ends...

"Do you have any notes for me?" I asked the director of our play, almost casually, last Wednesday night after the last dress rehearsal before we performed before an audience other than each other. "Yeah," he said. "Don't darken in your mustache."

And with that, the experiment ended. My director's comment did not end the experiment...his words only proved a confirmation. Before the rehearsal I tried one last time to make my facial hair seen from a distance of more than a couple of feet. The result...not good. And so, the great facial hair experiment of 2012 was over. I had lost. The next day was Thanksgiving and I shaved before we got together as a family. What you see here are the "Before" and "After" pictures.

I wrote a few weeks ago how I could not grow a beard, but I kept at it, hoping again hope that things would improve. Weeks later, the results remained the same yet again. Ever since I was a stuntman working at an amusement park years ago I wanted to grow a beard, or at least, a mustache. I tried back them and achieved similar results. But this time, I thought, "'s been over 20 years. Maybe things have changed and I'll be able to this time." You can all see the evidence of this fallacy. 

It's been almost a week since I've shaved and the funniest part (to me...) is that absolutely no one (other than my wife...) said anything to me about how I looked different, or that the beard was gone. Maybe they were being kind by not bringing it up. I don't know. Will I attempt another facial hair experiment in the future? Probably not. Because with knowledge comes responsibility...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Church Cleaning Time...

This was our week to clean the church. If you're not familiar with the way we do things, our church building is shared by three congregations with each congregation totaling about 300 members. So every week our building is being used by approximately 1000 people.

The church hires professionals to maintain the building, but for cleaning, we're all recruited to be volunteers. This is smart thinking, for more than just a financial benefit. Cleaning we can do, fixing electrical and/or plumbing problems...not so much.

The schedule works like this. Each congregation is assigned to clean the building for four months out of the year. We have the last four months of the year. For each week of the four months, three families are given different cleaning assignments. In year's past my family has cleaned the bathrooms and emptied the trash cans and washed the windows. This year, well...this was our best assignment ever.

We were responsible to make sure the chapel was clean of debris as well as the kitchen and the stage. Because this was Thanksgiving week, all weekly activities that usually take place in the building were canceled, which means those rooms which normally are dirtied during the week were as clean as they were when the parishioners left the church last Sunday afternoon. Our assignment was cake!

Next year we'll find out what we'll be asked to do. This year--things were good. Next year--I guess we'll just see what happens.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

To The Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday Cast...

To The Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday Cast...

Tonight we saw the culmination of hundreds, maybe even thousands of hours of combined practices, not to mention time spent listening to the "rehearsal track" and reading over and over your lines. We sat and watched from above. You put smiles on our faces as we sang the songs in the balcony. You made us wish we were with you on the painted stage among the lights and the smoke, performing for friends and family.

We spend a couple of months together learning everything we need to know to put on a great show, and then it's over. It's a strange feeling when the realization hits that when next week comes, there are faces you won't see and friends--some new, some you've had for years--you won't get to offer a handshake, or give a hug, or a slap on the back. They'll be coming to the theater always the day after you--their curtain will open only after it closes for us.

Those who perform do it for many reasons. There is a rush you get when those people in the audience are cheering and clapping for you and for the way you (and the cast and crew...) made them feel. It can be one of the most amazing feelings you'll ever have. But there's a more subtle yet rewarding feeling that you get from the rehearsals, where we experiment and risk and learn and retain and we do it together. Starting next week, we're now two teams instead of one.

To the other cast, I wish you well. May all your marks be hit, your notes be reached, your costume changes be successful and your time on stage together be an experience you'll remember forever. Break a leg! Take care.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Birthday Brunch...

The end of November is a busy time for our family. My son was born on November 23. My birthday is in a couple of days. There's always Thanksgiving around this time. My brother's birthday is at the end of the month. That's a lot of family gatherings (usually...) and a lot of good times (almost certainly...). 

Yesterday we spend Thanksgiving at my brother's house, then dessert with the in-laws. Today we were back with the in-laws for a birthday brunch. The brunch thing is kind of new for us, at least, as a means for a birthday celebration. The brunch was good...really good--lots of fruit and lots of bacon. Those are can't miss ingredients.

My son got clothes from the grandparents. I know, and, more importantly, he knows, he needs clothes. I was proud of his graciousness. After brunch we took the birthday boy to "Wreck It Ralph." The film was enjoyed by all.

Birthdays come and birthdays go. I'm glad I was able to spend today's birthday with family.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Food, Family, Fun, Thanksgiving 2012...

Anyone connected to social media has seen the posts for this Thanksgiving. Many of my friends began posting a daily "I'm Thankful For..." message at the first of November, and many of them are still at it. I love these posts and I'm pretty sure there's a huge feeling of satisfaction for the writers.

I haven't participated in this practice--not because I don't feel thankful for things, but because I am writing and posting other daily things.

For the first year in the past couple we did not have the Thanksgiving meal at our house. My brother's family hosted this year and we had a wonderful time. The food--including the bacon-wrapped turkey--was amazingly good! We ate, we chatted, we almost napped, we snapped some pictures.

As the sun set we headed to my wife's parent's house for more food and conversation. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law are in town from California. It's always good to see them.

I love reading about how thankful others are for the blessings in their lives. There's too many for me to mention in my life. Too bad we dedicate only one day a year to it. Of course, there's no rule against doing just that...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Consistently Written Blog...

The other day I came across a blog. I was searching for another blog where I could submit a short story (since the Weekly Writing Prompt website is taking this week off...) and this is what I found.

Now, to the credit of the blog's creator, I have no idea when this blog began. It could have been created last week, or even the day before I found it. And if this is the case, I wish the blogger accomplishes what he/she set out to do--write one short story each week until at the end of the year, they will have created quite a collection.

But just maybe this blog was started a month, or a year, or even several years ago. If that's the case, they didn't do what they wanted to do. This was to be a weekly blog. Mine is a daily. I often wonder why I write daily and--assuming this blog is months or years old--this picture reminds me why I write daily. It's because I probably wouldn't write at all if I didn't include a daily submission.

It's possible I could do a weekly blog. The trick is finding a time to write and sticking to that time. A daily is easy. I write before I got to bed. If I wrote a weekly, I'd just have to make sure I was disciplined enough to stick to my schedule. 

For their sakes, I sure hope this person is just beginning their blog. I wonder how many sites are out there like this. It would be interesting to know...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gotta Love Photographic Apps!

Having a digital camera with access to applications is just about the coolest thing around. Of course, I need to show some restraint in the purchasing of these apps...good thing most are only 99¢. Back when I had my Olympus OM-10, I wanted all those lens filters, because that was about the only way to manipulate the shots. Now, the thought of a filter seems like ancient technology (because it is...). Tonight I had the chance to catch another beautiful sunset in the west. And since I just got a new camera, I had to try out the toys.

Now, the camera isn't the best, but it's pretty darn good for something that lets you connect to the internet, play games, music, and movies.

And I've been experimenting with Instagram. It wasn't the best result, but you get the idea.

Another great app is called Photosynth, and it's from Microsoft. It's free, which is always nice. The picture on it's own looks a bit strange, but if you click: HERE, you can see the picture from the Photosynth website and explore a bit.

I also found another panoramic app called--appropriately--Panorama. It's the one thing my little Kodak did quite well. This app seems to do a pretty good job.

Still, just checking out the nature beauty of a sunset is enough. I'm glad my little camera preserved the moment. I love where I live.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bountiful Regional Center, A Few Photos...

It's such an unusual building. It sits right next to the freeway so the locals know what it is, but if you're just driving through, you may not know what it is. What it is is an event center owned and operated by the LDS Church.

I believe the building's been around as long as I have. I do remember that it once was a theater in the round. Now, it's a stage forward center. 

The coolest part of the building, I think, is the ceiling. And it makes for a good picture.

Last night we participated in a Thanksgiving program. A few hundred people showed up and hopefully enjoyed the experience. Before anyone showed up, I thought the sight of a couple of reserved seats was humorous. 

If you ever get a chance to go inside, it's an interesting place to visit. Check it out sometime...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Welcome Back Brother Simon...

This morning we loaded up the tired kids (to accompany their tired parents...) and headed south, about 45 minutes south, unless, of course, you're traveling with my sister, then it's like 30 minutes south. We arrived just before 9 a.m. in order to welcome home a family member who's been away for a couple of years.

Simon, the eldest son of the eldest son, is home and this morning we listened to him speak to a congregation full of family, friends, and neighbors. He did a great job. His words brought back a lot of memories...

Simon's a great example to my kids. It's possible that my oldest, the eldest son of the second eldest son, could be leaving in  just a matter of months to do the same thing. It's like life is on fast-forward.

Simon--welcome back! We're glad to see you again!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

So I Had A Dream I Had Hair...

Last night (or, perhaps, early this morning...) I had a strange dream. There were several strange aspects of my dream, like my wife and I attending a new new-age church west of where we live, and the new new-age church putting on a street parade in which we participated, and while we were participating in the parade Facebook friends of my Facebook friends were sending I/M's to us asking us what we were doing in the parade.

But the strangest part of the dream for me was, while attending the new new-age church, I was asked to put on a seminar. And when I stood to deliver my speech, I had a beautiful, full head of blond hair...just like I used to have. I ran my fingers through my hair and was surprised, yet at the same time, it was the most natural thing in the world for me to have my hair back.

I know people have dreams about attending grade school sans clothing (or a board meeting, or some other public event...), but I've had the hair dream a couple of times. It kind of freaks me out. I've been without hair longer than I had hair, so my current condition is, for me, normal.

Today my sons got their hair cut. It was needed. I wonder if, in 30 or so years, they'll have dreams about having the hair they used to have. Time (and genetics...) will tell.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Those Darn Hubcaps...

I admit, I took the corner too sharp. It's a cool corner--it's in Layton, on an I-15 onramp. If you're a fan of "Top Gear" there's a corner on the time trial lap where the good drivers aim for the patch of dirt just after they pass the stack of tires and just before they enter the last two turns. Yeah, it's like that...

Yesterday I went a little too far off the road and it was quite bumpy. "Ouch," I believe I said to myself. And when I looked in my rear view mirror I saw that think circle rolling alone on the road toward my slowing car. There it was...another hubcap taken from my little car.

I lost the first one a few months ago. That time I didn't realize it was missing until days later. Later, as I drove to work, I saw the missing hubcap resting by a building where I turn into my parking lot. I tried putting the hubcap back on the car, but it was damaged and wouldn't stay in place so I just put it in the back of the car.

Next week I'll not take the same corner so sharp, and I'll try to stop and retrieve my other hubcap (assuming Layton City hasn't cleaned the area this weekend...). Chances are it's damaged, too. I will then need to make a decision and as I see it, I've got three choices. I can, 1: buy four new hubcaps, 2: take the remaining two off the car, or 3: leave things as they are and experience two more times that feeling that something that was once part of the car is no longer there...