Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Man From Georgia Was Right...There's A Mountain At The End Of Every Street

One of the cool things about attending writing conventions and comic cons (and I haven't been to that many...) is getting to know people from around the world. Having spent most of my life in Utah, I'm always interested to hear what people think of our little state.

A few weeks ago I drove east getting to my home. The road appeared to go straight into a mountain. It reminded me of something a visiting writer said about Utah. We were at one of the early Salt Lake Comic Cons (back when it was called Salt Lake Comic Con...). A guest writer came in all the way from Georgia to attend the event.

The writer was James Ray Tuck Jr. Not only is he a writer, he's also a tattoo artist. Very cool guy. In between selling books, I struck up a conversation with him. I found out where he lived and so I asked him what he thought of Utah.

"It's beautiful here," he said. That's a common response I get when asking people about our state, especially those who are visiting for the first time. Perhaps it was the writer in him, but what he said next has stuck with me.

"It's like there's a mountain at the end of every street."

I asked him for clarification because it was the first time I had ever heard anyone put it that way.

"Yeah, when I was downtown walking around, I'd look up and down the streets and every time, there was a mountain at the end--no matter where I looked, I always saw a mountain."

I knew what he meant, of course. I had just never looked at it that way. But when I was driving home a few weeks ago, I looked at the straight road ahead of me and it reminded me of James's perspective. At the end of my road, there was a mountain.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Anyone Want A Free Entertainment Center? Authentic Swedish Design, Assembled In USA...

If you're looking for a low-profile, Swedish-designed entertainment center, assembled here in the good old U-S-of-A, have we got the entertainment center for you!

Is that a question or a statement?

No matter,. Yes, if you're in need of just such an item (and the rolling castors work, too...!), and you're in the Davis County area, just contact me--it's yours!

And why is this quality item being given away?

Because we bought a huge piece (or pieces...) of furniture today and it's now in our house. Just looking at it makes my muscles hurt. We bought the entertainment center for several reasons, the biggest of which, is the new puppy. Normally, we have stuff all over the front room. It's cleaned up, sure, but not on a regular basis. Now, because the puppy is getting bigger every day. Soon, he'll be able to reach those left out things. He'll even be able to snap up food from off the counter. 

Upward and onward is the puppy's new motto!

I can't talk about the new entertainment center without mentioning the people from which we bought it. We found the item on KSL Classified, a local on-line classified service. Thankfully the sellers live only a couple of miles from our house. Not only did they help us load it into our van, they loaded half of the cargo (it comes in four huge pieces...) in their truck. They then drove it to our house and helped us unload. I'm sure they would have helped us bring it into the house if we had asked.

As far as my family moving everything, I had doubts the six of us could get all the furniture into the house. At one point each of us stood around the heaviest piece and all lifted together. I know it sounds corny, but it was one of those "bringing the family closer" moments.

We now have a huge entertainment in our living room. DVDs, video games, cables connecting everything are now protected from the puppy, and I'm dog-tired. It's been a crazy day.

Friday, July 13, 2018

To The Pre-Parade Squatters...

 I spotted my the first yellow caution tape Monday or Tuesday. I thought someone was blocking people from walking on newly planted sod. It wasn't until a few days (and possibly hundreds of lawn chairs...) later that I finally understood.

The parade is this weekend.

For one day a year residents on Farmington's Main Street, State Street, and Second West become imprisoned in their own homes and people from all over descend upon our little hamlet to watch cars, marching bands, politicians, hot tub salesman, police, and fire personnel, and horses walk in front of them. The kids hoping to catch as much candy as they can--the parents hoping they do, too.

But the squatters...they're the real heroes. I'm sure most of the yellow caution tape/chairs/blankets come from the homeowners themselves. I can't imagine someone who doesn't live at a residence doing that to someone else, but I'm sure it's happened.

Do they put up the yellow tape to block access to others because they have family/friends joining them to watch, or are they just sick of other people claiming temporary ownership of their real estate? I imagine it's both. I haven't attended the parade in years. Tomorrow morning as the crowds gather, I'll be somewhere else yet again.

And when the parade entries have all but gone and the only candy left is the taffy that got squished by car and truck tires, those hardy souls with pack up their chairs, take down the yellow tape and go back to their normal non-parade lives.

Until the week before next year's parade, that is...

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Beautiful Morning...Then Beautiful Sunset

One advantage of getting up early to walk a puppy around the yard is, if by the off chance there happens to be an incredible sunrise, you have a higher probability of seeing it. And if you have access to a camera while you're walking around, you can catch the beauty of the morning--or try to, anyway. A few days ago, I did exactly that.

Sunrises are tricky. They seem to disappear quicker than a colorful sunset. The sky really was amazing but I had a tough time getting a good picture, or at least, a picture that caught most of what I was seeing. As color drained from the clouds, turning them to white, I felt good that I had captured at least a picture or two that was good.

There's no guarantee that a good sunset will follow a good sunrise.

But it happened a few days ago--in a big way.

The clouds hung around all day and when the sun sat in the west, the colors returned and lit up the entire sky. When that happens, I end up taking a lot of pictures. I picked the best ones to show here. With the telephoto lens, I can get the entire picture to glow a brilliant orange.

As we watched and took pictures, a storm grew and we heard thunder. I even caught the very end of a lightning strike. If you look at the above picture, right along the left-side edge, you can see a faint white line. Lightning. I wish I had the camera just a little to the left when I snapped the picture. It would have been cool.

In looking at another shot, I saw what looks like an enormous head looking down at our house. I never spotted it when I took the picture.

I love a good sunset. I love a good sunrise. I love when I can get both in one day, just like what happened a few days ago.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Happy Birthday...To A Sweet, Sweet Man

Today was my father-in-law's birthday. We loaded up the van this afternoon and dropped by for a visit complete with ice cream and pie. Due to commitments, we weren't able to stay too long.

I have a lot of thoughts when I think of my father-in-law. I've known him for twenty-six years, decades longer than I knew my own father. He's been a wonderful father figure for me as I transitioned from single adult, to newly married husband, to first-time father, to a father of four. He's been there the whole time.

Growing up without a father in the home, you don't realize what you don't know. I thought I knew about being a father. I mean, the big things I thought I could handle, but having someone in my family that showed me how to navigate the sometimes stormy seas of fatherhood has been a Godsend. 

And not only has he been a wonderful example for me, he's been an absolute dream as a grandfather of my children. Since my dad passed, my children (nor my wife...) were never able to meet my dad, so my father-in-law's been my children's only example of a grandfather. I consider my kids lucky to have had such a man in their lives, a man who's shown them the value of hard work, of respect for things, for frugal living, and staying committed to family.

Yes, today we visited my father-in-law, my wife's dad, my children's grandpa on his birthday. Thanks Blaine, for everything.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

I Just Wanted To Cool Down The Car...Not Kill A Bunch Of Wasps

Growing up, I lived across the street from where I now live. With my father passing away when I was young, my mother raised three kids on her own and sometimes we didn't have a lot of money when things needed to get fixed. For example, the A/C unit at home died and wasn't fixed for several years. We just camped out in a back room and used fans. We got by. The same thing happened to the cars we had. Many times, there was no A/C. Again, we got by.

What does this have to do with killing a bunch of wasps?

Good question.

This past week has been the warmest of the year so far. It usually gets warm in Utah in the summer--where we live it's not so warm you die if you're outside too long, but warm enough. And because it's so warm, I try and park my car in the shade, if possible. I guess it's holdover from when we didn't have any A/C at home or in our cars.

This week, because it was so hot, I decided to crack the car windows about half an inch to let the heat out so when I climbed in around 5pm, it didn't feel like the seventh level of Hades. Even though my car has pretty good A/C, for a couple of days it helped, but yesterday, when my daughter and I climbed in to go to rehearsal, I noticed a dead wasp on the back seat. First I made sure it was dead, then I tried to brush it off the seat and out of the car.

That's when I saw another dead wasp in the window.

I then saw two more dead insects at the base of the window.

I then saw several others dead on the floor.

Uh oh, I thought. I wondered if there was a wasp nest somewhere in the car. It's happened before when I've parked a car for a few months. But I've been driving this car everyday. There couldn't be a nest in the car. Then it hit--lowering the windows allowed the bugs to fly in and they couldn't get out. It was so hot they fried.

I have a general rule about bugs, especially those that bite and sting. I'll try not to bother them in their house (outside), if they stay out of my house (inside). I'm not sure how that applies to the situation with the bugs and my car, though. I know I don't want to fry any more wasps like that. I guess I'll just be a little more uncomfortable until the car cools down.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Attending A Party...Where No One Was Invited

Last April our only daughter turned eighteen. Two months later she graduated. We thought it was high time for a get-together to celebrate. Unfortunately, because of the craziness of life, the party never took place.

But, in a way, it did.

Weeks ago we decided on a Saturday evening and decided on the location, Woodland Park in central Farmington. It a beautiful place and in the spring there's a small creek that flows through the middle of it. We booked the park terrance and waited. In between the booking and last Saturday night, we sort of didn't invite anyone to come, nor did we plan any activities.

It's not because we don't love our daughter, mind you. Quite the opposite. It's just that life got so crazy the last couple of weeks, the party never materialized. My wife's parents had health issues, we got a puppy, then my wife had health issues, and what probably had the biggest impact, my daughter's schedule. She is working full-time, just weeks from graduating high school (or our homeschool version of it...). And she's in a play that requires three to four hour rehearsals several times a week. It's a lot for a newly free teenager.

I'm sure had she told us what we wanted to do and invited friends and family, the party would have taken place and it would have been fun--we'd have made it work somehow. But it didn't.

Saturday night we drove down to the park to make sure the terrace was clean. If someone had used it and left it dirty and full of trash, we wouldn't get back our deposit. We decided to take the new puppy with us. We got there around 9pm, just as the sun was setting. My four kids, my oldest son's girlfriend and the dog had the place all to ourselves. From somewhere a cool breeze blew from the east and through the park. Because it had been such a hot day--well into the 100s--the breeze felt heavenly.

I saw and watched the kids play with the dog and chat on the outdoor stage as the light faded and it came time to go. No,  we didn't have the kind of party newly graduated high school seniors and recently turned eighteen-year olds have, but I loved it. It was special.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Rain On A Hot Summer Night...

Summer rain in Utah is an anomaly. We'll go weeks, even months without a good rainstorm. Today, however, I had hope that when clouds formed a blanket in the sky, blocking out that stifling sun, we'd get rain.

And we did.

And it lasted all of seven minutes. Where we live, it didn't rain enough to even wash the windows on the cars.

Don't get me wrong--any rain is good. I'm sure it rained a lot in the mountains or other places. We can use it to re-fill the reservoirs, water our lawns, and put out several raging fires across the state. Yes, a good dowsing would answer a lot of prayers.

Normally, I come inside when it's raining, but tonight, I stayed out and let it hit my hatless head, watched the color change on the sidewalk, and saw the beads on the cars. I can't image just how dirty that water was. Over the past couple of weeks you can actually smell the smoke for distant flames, not to mention all the regular pollution that's in our air.

Yes, I would LOVE a nice couple-of-hours long rainstorm. Tonight we got a spritz, but hoping for a shower soon.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

When You Realize The Red And Blue Lights Are Meant For You...

You know the feeling, a feeling more dramatic when it happens at night. You're driving and lights from the car (or truck, or motorcycle...) change from the ordinary white to a smattering of reds and blues. You slow down and move to the shoulder of the road...

And the car/truck/motorcycle does not drive pulls up behind you.


It happened last night as my daughter and I were returning from a late-night rehearsal. I was stopped at a red light in the left turn lane. Once we got the green light I made the turn then quickly got in the right lane. I was going to turn at the next light to enter the freeway. I notice one car behind me, not unusual, but the roads were almost abandoned at that hour.

The light was red so I slowed and just as I got to the intersection, it turned green. I made the right-hand turn. The car that was following me did as well. Then the car behind me hit the reds and blues and I was pulled over.

You know that feeling when you get pulled over you wonder, first--what did I do wrong? I couldn't think of anything. You then wonder (if you're like me...), is there something wrong with my car--a light out or something? I'd learn soon enough. As the policeman got out of his car I turned to my daughter and told her I hadn't gotten a ticket in probably 30 years.

I rolled down my window. He introduced himself and I asked what was the problem.

"You forgot to signal when you made that right-hand turn."

Yup--he was right. 

I apologized, handed over my driver's license, then awaited my fate. I told my daughter I thought I had signaled. She said I always use my signal. Apparently, that's not true.

He returned, handed me my license, and told me to make sure I use my signal from now on. I thanked him, told him I would, and we both drove away. I spent the rest of the trip playing "wise council dad" to my daughter. I told her I didn't argue. I didn't get mad. I kept my hands 10 and 2 on the steering wheel--she asked about that one. I told her cops are trained to watch the hands. If someone's going to try and do you harm, watching the hands gives you the most time to react. At least, that's what I've been told. I made sure my hands were visible the entire time.

He gave me a warning. He didn't have to. I'm not 100%s sure, but I think they check my record to look up past offenses. Without any--at least, recent--violations, it makes a difference when they're deciding to ticket or not to ticket. And as long as I keep a clean driving record, let's hope my theory holds true from now on. Better yet, let's hope I don't see the red and blues flashing in my rearview mirror again.

Friday, July 6, 2018

When You Think You See Stephen King At The Walmart Grocery Pick-Up...

I have one of those work schedules that allows me a three-day weekend every week. I put in my forty hours between Monday and Thursday so on Fridays, I am able to run errands and do things many people can only do Saturday or Sunday. That's how I came to find myself at our local Walmart store between the hours of 9am and 10am MDT this morning.

We participate in Walmart's Pick Up service. You get on-line and fill out your order. If it's over a certain amount (I believe $35...), you don't pay extra for this service. And since we have six people, two dogs and two cats living under our roof, we could almost spend $35 a day at that store. We've used the service for several months--it saves us time and we're generally very pleased with the results.

So, this morning--like every other time I've arrived at the pick up location--I parked the car and waited for the person to come out and ask the name on the order. Kyle was that person this morning, very pleasant and very prompt--two things I like in a server.

As he brought out our groceries, a blue Chevy parked next to me. I thought nothing of it--cars come and go all the time. We loaded up my car, I thanked Kyle for his pleasantness and promptness and hopped in the driver's seat of my car to get home. That's when I glanced over at the driver in the blue Chevy...

That's Stephen King, I thought to myself.

Now, when you think you spot someone famous, several thoughts go through your mind, the biggest is, "what in the world would Stephen King be doing at a Walmart grocery pick up in Utah on a warm July morning?"

Of course the answer is, he wouldn't. I guess there's a one in seven-and-a-half billion chance it would actually be him. Just to make sure, I took a second look (but not in a creepy way...) and it wasn't Stephen King, just another pick up customer who looked similar to the famous writer.

As I drove home, I wondered just what would I do if Stephen King pulled up beside me in a blue Chevy (or any car, really...) at the Walmart Pick Up. I'd probably not do much, maybe nod or say, "hi." I mean, the man most likely wouldn't want to be bothered while sitting in a blue Chevy.

Then again, if he ever found himself sitting in a blue Chevy at a Walmart grocery store pick up in Utah in July, he just might ask the next person he saw just what the hell he was doing there. If that happened, I'm not sure I'd know what to tell him, because that's an excellent question.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Used An Electric Cart To Shop For The First Time And My Question Is...Why Have I Been Walking For 50 Years?

Yesterday my wife and I found ourselves facing a decision. We needed to pick up something for dinner and we planned on barbecuing. It was Independence Day, after all. The decision that faced us was this: do we go into the store just after returning from Instacare and with my wife in a walking boot just after injuring her calf?

Or, do we go home and figure out something else for dinner.

"I could just go in and get everything?" I suggested. I could tell she wanted to go in too, instead of sitting in a car in 90º temperatures with no shade did not sound fun.

"Yeah," she said. Then we both had the same idea--we can used on of their three Amigo shopping carts. I think we even laughed at the idea, but we also both wanted to do it. Truth be told, I've seen more people use the carts at our local Wal-Mart than at the Harmons store that's near our house. Still, you can't say you haven't been at least a bit curious at what it would be like to zip around on one of those things.

And so we did, or my wife rode--I made sure the pathways were clear. We purchased deli salad, meat to grill, some eggs (because we were low...), and ice cream. We scored on the ice cream--buy one, get one free! We would have bought more, but a couple of gallons was sufficient.

Luckily, we had parked close so my wife zipped across the parking lot ("zipped" may not be the most accurate word to describe the Amigo's speed...) and loaded up the van with our goods. I don't even know if we're supposed to take those things into the parking lot, being first-timers, and all. My wife got in the van and I returned the electric conveyance back to the store. I experienced first had the thrill of piloting an electric cart and I think I could have crawled faster back to the store. I felt like a dork.

My wife and I had a blast in the store. We even joked about not using one of those things earlier. I mean, we'd been wasting all that time and energy walking when we could have ridden in style. Still, of all the pluses associates with the Amigos my wife and I would hate to have to use one. I guess the answer to my question of, why have we been walking instead of riding all these years, is this:

Because we were able to walk.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Waiting For The Jets...On Independence Day

The first time I saw the jets flying on July 4th was probably more than a decade ago. We were at my in-law's neighborhood enjoying a holiday breakfast. We're used to having military aircraft taking off from Hill Air Force Base to the north, but rarely do they fly directly over our little town. That morning years ago I watched as several jets flew in formation heading south to give parade attendees an extra thrill for the holiday.

I've tried to watch for them--when I remember--ever since.

I woke this morning earlier than I normally would, thanks to the puppy (see blog post from 7/2/18...). Around 8am I decided to take a chair out to the back porch and wait.

And I waited...

And I waited.

It was a nice morning to be out in the fresh air. I sat and watched the sunlight slowly creep toward me. The moon in the southern sky also was beautiful. Plus, I couldn't leave--I felt like if I did, the jets would fly by at any moment. Because of their incredible speed, my window of filming opportunity was very small. Around 8:20am, I did a quick Siri search to see if the plane's schedule was on-line. Turns out, it was. A report in the Ogden Standard Examiner said the jets would be flying around between 9am and 11am.

Still, I sat and waited. Because I knew that even though it only takes a few minutes for the jets to reach almost any city on the Wasatch Front, if I left my chair at 8:45am, for example, the jets would fly majestically by at that very moment. And when I did go inside thinking I'll hear the planes, the sounds of large trucks hauling stuff up and down the mountain one street over tricked me several times in thinking I was missing it.

Finally, my patience paid off. Just after 9am, I heard the rumbling. I rushed outside, activated the video mode on my phone and recorded. Luckily, I was able to catch them as they returned to base. And since there's opposition in all things, I succeeded, but my wife did not. In an attempt to see the jets in person, my wife hurried outside. She bruised a muscle or damaged a tendon trying to get down the front steps in a hurry. She now has a fashionable boot as evidence of her zeal.

Next year--hopefully--the jets will again return to the sky to entertain and act as a reminder of their true calling. I plan on doing the same thing. I'm sure my wife will not. Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

A Navy Man's Car...

I was at my in-laws yesterday and they had visitors, two men the same generation as my mother and father-in-law. They dropped by to see how they were doing and to give some assistance. I knew one of the gentlemen--he's my friend's father. I've known him for decades. The other man, I didn't know.

We left before they did and as I left, I noticed the vehicle the man I didn't know drove. After seeing the decals, I had to snap a couple of pictures.

He was a veteran, and by the looks of it, a navy man.

I don't know many navy service men or women. I suppose it goes with the territory. We have an air force base about ten miles to the north of us. And there's an army base about forty-five miles to the south of us.

But no navy bases here, even though we have the nation's biggest salt-water lake just west of us.

I have a newspaper clipping of my father and four of his siblings who served together in WWII. My dad was army air corp, but a few of his brothers were in the navy. I thought it odd boys from Idaho would want to go into the navy. I don't know--maybe they didn't have a choice. Maybe being in another land-locked state, they wanted to see a lot of water.

The man visiting my in-laws was a navy man. His van had stickers with familiar sayings, probably the most famous being:

Home of the Free Because of the Brave

I can't argue with that. The decals made me stop and think for just a moment. I'm sure the man has stories, some I'd love to hear and some I most likely never want to hear. Yes, I'm glad there are men and women who serve and serve willingly to protect me and my family. It's a shame that they're needed, but I'm glad they're there.

I'm also glad that kindly gentlemen visited a couple in need, too.

Monday, July 2, 2018

So...My Son Got A Puppy

Remember back when you were younger (or, maybe it even happens when you're older...) and there was something you wanted? You wanted it so bad you thought about it all the time. It might have been a car, or a jacket, or skis, or a computer...

...or a pet.

Something got into our second-oldest child a few months ago. He wanted a dog. We have a dog, but he wanted one for him. We started looking on-line and going down to our local pet store when they had dogs and puppies to adopt. There were some sweet and amazing animals, but none of them connected with him. They didn't feel right. I told him that if there was a dog out there that was supposed to become another member of our family, it would happen.

And it did.

He had been checking fairly regularly, but nothing came up. We wanted a hypoallergenic dog because of allergy issues with our family. We thought, maybe a poodle and we wanted a rescue dog. My son looked and the closest rescue poodle was in Texas.

But last Friday my son decided to check again. He found one, a three-month old Standard Poodle puppy. He came upstairs and told us about it and urged us to put in an application. Long story short, twelve hours later, we were driving home with Bec.

It took a lot of courage for my son to commit to this. We're helping, but he knows it's his dog. I got my first dog, Tasha, when I was thirteen and she passed away seventeen years later. This dog will hopefully become a friend and companion for my son, someone to help him through the good times and the tough times. We feel this animal is going to change lives.

Yes, we have another animal living under our roof. It's not the easy choice, but things that matter most usually aren't. Welcome home, Bec. We've been waiting for you.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

A Sunday Morning...A Lot Like Today

"It's July 1st," my wife said this morning as we waited for our day to begin.

"Yup," I replied. It wasn't until I saw my sister's Facebook post that I realized it was the anniversary of my mother's passing.

Eleven years.

I've got two reference points when it comes to my parent's deaths since they're both gone. Eleven years after my father died (almost to the day...), I was living in Provo, Utah, learning how to speak/write/read the Danish language in preparation to live for two years in Europe and serve a church mission. I grew up in those eleven years, from a child barely turned eight-years old to someone who could legally vote and someone who was moving away from his home state for the first time in his life.

Funny how time is relative. The past eleven years, my kids have made that kind of progress. I still feel the same, except for more aches, more body weight, more problems with the house and the cars.

I found myself outside several times today. Eleven years ago today it was Sunday, a little warmer than it was today. I was at my home across the street from where I grew up, across the street where my mother lay in her bed--the same place she'd been the entire previous week, unmoving, unconscious. I got a call from my siblings asking me to come over. I did and within the hour, she was gone.

While out tonight I snapped a picture of my childhood home. It looks different now. The landscaping's changed, we never had a basketball standard out front, nor did we have a big tree on the corner of the lot. Cars were parked behind--an option no longer available. Both my parents passed away on a Sunday, my father in February 1974, my mother July 1st, 2007. The both died in their bedroom, both in the morning.

"It's July 1st." It won't always fall on a Sunday like it did today. It will always fall in summer. Yes, it was a little cooler than the same day eleven years ago. I hope my parents enjoyed the day, hanging out together and remembering the day as a reunion, not a separation. I'm sure they did.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Oh, How Lovely Was The Morning...

We had to get up early to take family to the airport--not too early, but early for a weekend. I opened the front door to let the cat inside and a cool breeze washed over me.

And it felt wonderful.

The thermometer read: 62º. That's hard to believe. Not three days earlier it was 93º at 10:30pm--that's Vegas temperatures. I was talking to someone a week or two ago about Utah's weather. I told them Utah's weather would be perfect in the summers if two things would happen. First, if it would rain at least once a week during the summer, that would be wonderful. It would clean the air and help water everything. And Second, if the temperatures would drop below 70º at night, I could handle 100º plus days. Those two things would make Utah summers, in a word, perfect.

When I saw the 62º I thought maybe a perfect summer was on its way.

Nope--at least, not yet. It hasn't rained in a couple of weeks.

Rain looked hopeful; we had clouds and they were amazing. I snapped a few pictures to remember the lovely morning. Oh, if every summer morning could be this nice, I'd be halfway there to my perfect summer.