Seasonal Thoughts and Thanksgivings




The seasons collide in the fall.
Halloween gives way to Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving bumps up against Christmas.
November,
I’m not done with you yet.
I need to hang on the last vestiges of 
fall and the Thanksgiving season
 before I am hurled into the rush and bustle 
of December and Christmas.
*************
My son called early in October and asked us to come out and spend Thanksgiving with them in Utah. I took him up on the offer.  They have a new home we had not yet seen, so we were excited to spend the inaugural Thanksgiving with them making new memories in their new home.  
On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Jim and I flew out to Salt Lake City, Utah, and my son Ryan picked us up at the airport.  We ran around town with him while he did Thanksgiving preparation errands, and he gave us a grand tour of his new neighborhood.  I so seldom get to spend alone time with my son, that I couldn’t help but comment how wonderful it was just to be driving around town with him while we chatted.  He always makes the best of times even better.

Fall is the perfect season to capture the beauty of my son and daughter-in-law’s new home.  A branch adorned with golden leaves formed a perfect frame for this classic craftsman style home. 



I love the neighborhood where my son and his wife now live.  On a small porch at the corner house down the street from them, two college age guys dressed in wool coats and wool caps were sitting in lawn chairs listening to classical music and smoking cigars as they played chess.  I said to my son, “I love where you live.  It seems so civilized.”


Jim and Ryan led the way as we walked past houses still adorned with fall decor and headed to our home away from home to spend a quiet evening together.  

Our airbnb, which was just a block and a half from my son’s home, was so nice.  We really enjoyed the experience of staying in this home and in this neighborhood.  I kept telling my husband I was ready to move.  I loved the area around Sugarhouse in Salt Lake City.  




This was just one of the cool houses between our house (home away from home) and son Ryan’s.  

The next morning Jim and I walked back to Ryan and Sheridan's house and the four of us and Sheridan’s two boys headed out for the mile and a half walk to get breakfast at the best bakery ever.  I had their steel cut oats with fruit.  Seldom does one rave about steel cut oats, but I raved about theirs.  Oh, and I had part of an orange cinnamon roll too.  I wasn’t going to pass that up.  I fear we would visit this place on  daily walks if we lived nearby.



There are shops all around the bakery.  Across the street is a wonderful bookstore called The King’s English.  We visited it on the day after Thanksgiving.  All of this makes the neighborhood a desired location for living a life where shopping, and restaurants, and grocery stores are just a short walk or bike ride away.
The door to our apartment...


leaves on the ground, they all became subjects for me to photograph.  On this beautiful fall day, I so loved the experience of walking around taking in the sights found in a neighborhood filled with architectural delights.  It was just what my soul needed.  
At home, fall had left us during a blistery and wet storm weeks before Thanksgiving.  I had not been able to revel in the glory of fall and give her a proper farewell at home, so these last days of November in Utah were a special blessing to me.

Thanksgiving Eve, Jim and I walked over to my son’s house to participate in food preparation (ok, I watched while they worked) and to await the arrival of Amy and Jewett whom were driving from Colorado, and the arrival of grandson Bridger whom was coming down from Logan, Utah, where he attends Utah State.  


The beauty of the day continued.  I wish I could have captured the full effect of the moon at dusk, but this photo does give you an idea of how beautiful the evening was as we headed into my favorite holiday of the year: Thanksgiving.
We were worried about the travelers as a huge wreck had closed down the highway, but daughter and her love arrived safe and sound at a much later time than anticipated.  Thank heavens for cell phones and Google maps.  Bridger also arrived safe and sound from his drive down from Logan.  I was struck by how thrilled we were when Bridger arrived.  Does everyone always shout with joy when he enters a room?  I think so.  He is such a special kid.
The bounty for the planned feast was plentiful. I was struck by the beauty of the preparation of the meal itself.  Part of Thanksgiving is the anticipation of what is about to transpire as family comes together.  There is so much work in preparing the feast for a family the size of ours.  I so appreciate all that Ryan and Sheridan did to make the occasion perfect.  Thank you, Ryan and Sheridan!


While my family is large, the gathering itself was a bit smaller this year.  Ryan’s two older children, Regan and Parker, are living and working in Montana where they will be attending college, so they did not come home for Thanksgiving.  Amy and Jewett came from Colorado, but Amy’s two children stayed home with their father and had Thanksgiving with their other grandmother, and Samantha and Jonathan and their two children had been in Paris, France, the week before Thanksgiving and they were flying home to Colorado on Thanksgiving Day.  As with most large families, we are scattered all over.  That is why being together whenever possible is so special.
Thanksgiving morning, the house had been transformed in order to accommodate the expected guests.  (Don’t you love Ryan and Sheridan’s home???)


The guests arrived, photos were taken,and soon we were ready to eat the scrumptious meal provided by our hosts.  Really, they out did themselves.  Everything was perfect!
Photos were taken,

Daughter Keicha with her daughter Gillian


Amy & Jewett

My girls on either side of me
Keicha, Sally, Amy

the turkey was taken from the oven and carved,



the lentil loaf prepared for and by Sheridan for the vegetarians in the group was also taken from the oven,

the food was placed on the beautiful tables, 



Holidays bring with them memories both happy and sad.  Often, we are reminded of those no longer with us.  Sheridan was my daughter Julie's dear friend, and it was at Julie's memorial service where my son Ryan met our lovely Sheridan.  Blessings come from loss.  I'm so grateful for the family that was created because of a lasting and long friendship between Julie and Sheridan.  Julie's ashes are on the mantle and the empty chair reminds us of the one we miss and wish were with us to share in this joyous day.  

The empty chair reminds me that Julie would not be in it even if she were with us.  She had way too much energy for that.  She would be cooking and cleaning and arranging, and laughing, and joking, and loving on her nieces and nephews.  I miss her arm on my shoulder as she would have stood beside me in a photo of me and my daughters, but her spirit is with us.  I rejoice that we as a family remain strong and together and so appreciative of fall days at the end of November when we gather together to give thanks for all of our many blessings.  
There was more!  
In the evening we followed the tradition started long ago by Sheridan's wonderful dad by playing a spirited and competitive game of bingo.  The prizes were both great and not so great.  That is part of the fun.  Bingo and Thanksgiving pie now go together in my mind. 

 I love this tradition of more guests arriving in the evening with pies and gifts.  Sheridan's sister and her family and her mom and dad and another couple whom are good friends came to the house to play bingo after their own Thanksgiving dinners.  There was barely room to move around.  Jim was schooled on how to be the Bingo game caller, and we ended the day by playing Bingo which led to much fun and a lot of laughter.  


The memories of Thanksgiving 2018 are stored away in that place were all that is wonderful about this holiday live.  I am so very blessed with such a dear and wonderful family.  My children are so supportive of me and of each other.  I do not take that gift of family unity lightly.  Our bonds are strong and our devotion to each other is firm.  That is one hope I have always had for myself and and my children:  that we would celebrate and embrace the uniqueness that each of us bring to our family bond and they would seek to always build and affirm that bond and devotion to each other.  I'm so very grateful that again I witnessed and partook in the fellowship of a family devoted to each other.    My heart is full.
Perhaps, Thanksgiving comes at the perfect time of year because just as fall leaves us, we are given the chance to embrace her beauty one last time as we gather to spend a day giving thanks while eating delicious food with those we love best.  

Thanksgiving 2018, I needed you to be just as you were.  Now, I can let November days give way to the hustle and bustle that comes in December.  

Memorial Day to the Fourth of July ~ Part I

No blogging has been done since May!  I’ve had a lot going on, so today, I hope to catch up just a bit.

Just where DO I start?  It seems that so much has been going on in my world since the first of 2018 that I just have not had the time, the energy, or the inclination to blog about anything.

Mid-May to Memorial Day

In mid-May, I flew to Utah for to attend my grandson Bridger’s graduation from high school.  I had the most wonderful time celebrating him and his accomplishments and spending time with family.  

Bridger, the youngest child of my oldest child, my son Ryan, is one of those very special kids that has always brought joy to each person he meets.  Honestly, I’ve never met anyone who knows Bridger who doesn’t comment on what a special person he is.  His genuineness comes through in every conversation.  He’s an adventuresome kid with a great personality and good looks.  All of that only takes you so far.  Thankfully, he is also very smart and he is a hard worker who is self driven.  He plans on attending Utah State University in Logan, Utah, next year.  I’m very proud of him and can’t wait to see what the future will bring to him.
Grandma Sally with Bridger
Bridger on the big screen
Son Ryan with Bridger and Daughter-in-law Sheridan

I must admit that some tears were shed when Bridger graduated.  When he tried on his cap and gown, he gathered up his gorgeous curly long brown hair into a thick pony tail as he looked into the mirror  and contemplated how the cap would stay on that head of hair.  As he gathered up his long locks into that thick pony tail, I saw the nape of his neck and instantly saw the exact same looking curls as my daughter Julie had at her neckline.  I then saw a pony tail just like one she would make on hot summer days. Those unique similarities caused me to become overcome with emotions.  I sobbed.  I must admit that I hated bringing a sad reminder to such a time of joy, but that is how grief hits sometimes.  In the tears, I rejoiced that Bridger rocks that beautiful mane and knew that Julie would be so proud of his hair and would say that they were genetic twins when it came to hair.  

I thought of the photo I had of Julie holding Bridger right after he was born.  She was living in Salt Lake at the time with Sheridan and was attending the University of Utah.  Now, eighteen years later, Julie is no longer with us to celebrate this occasion, but Sheridan is now married to Bridger’s father and Sheridan is the one assisting him in his graduation dress rehearsal.  Sheridan met my son at Julie’s memorial service.  I will always be so grateful for the deep and treasured friendship that Julie had with Sheridan that resulted in Sheridan joining our family.

And then, there were more tears on graduation day.  Sheridan has loved Bridger so much and has so loved being his mom that she is really having a hard time with him graduating and going on to college.  Her great boys, Max and Henry, are also a bonus that this family gained when Ryan and Sheridan married.  Max, Henry, and Bridger are as tight as any brothers you will find.  Yes, the smile on Sheridan’s face is bright and beautiful, but her eyes had great big tears falling from them.  Mine did too.  There is a lot of joy and love in this celebratory photo.


There were other great family times that I was able to have while I was in Utah spending time with my daughter and son and their families.  Times like these are treasures.  

Son Ryan, Sally, daughter Keicha, and grandchildren Gillian
Bridger & Regan.

I stayed in my very first Airbnb when I went to Utah.  The place I found was in Layton, Utah, which is midway between where my son lives and my daughter lives.  I loved staying in a place that became like a home away from home where I could stay up as late as I wanted, or go to bed whenever I wanted.  When I got up in the morning, it was great to have a kitchen where I could fix breakfast and make some coffee.  Also, I loved having a comfy couch where I could read, visit, or rest after a hectic day with the family.  This won’t be the only time I use Airbnb.  

Memorial Day is always a difficult time for me and for my family because my daughter took her life on May 29, 2010, on the Friday before Memorial Day.  My children, and those whom love me most and are always the most supportive, know just how hard that weekend and the days surrounding May 29th are for me and family.  I received many texts and calls from my family and friends asking, “Are you ok?”  Or, “I love you.  I am thinking of you.”  I so appreciate the gestures of kindness, concern, empathy, and love.

Most years on Memorial Day I go to the cemetery to decorate the graves, or I try to do a special activity to honor Julie’s memory. This year, I decided not to do any commemorative activities, but instead, I decided to take the day as it came while practicing self-care.  

On the 26th, I took some time to record my thoughts.  I said I was raw.  My emotions were fragile.  I recorded how raw I looked and how raw I felt.  In the rawness, I also recorded how I was rejoicing because I learned more from the great loss of a daughter about love than I ever could have learned any other way.  

On that day, the 26th of May, I also rejoiced because I had yet another day and another summer to look forward to with hope and joy.  I took the day to begin planting a bit more in my impossible garden.  I had flowers to plant.  That always brings me joy.  In my devotions for that day, I was reminded that the Lord’s mercies are new each morning.  I reflected on beautiful scripture card that I keep on my desk.

I love this verse.  I am held by One whom will keep me from stumbling.  What comfort this assurance bring me.

On Memorial Day itself, May 28th this year, we had a picnic in our little village where we live.  The day was warm and sunny.  A neighbor and his wife graciously set up tables in their driveway and in the garage where all of us in our HOA community could visit while eating great picnic type food.  It marked the official start of summer.  I was more than ready to see the season arrive.

As I toured my yard trying to decide where to plant flowers I had to snap a photo of this poor little tree because in many ways, this poor little tree is a perfect representation of the kind of winter I had.  


I planted the tree, a more mature Alberta pine, last fall because I didn’t want to wait for a smaller one to grow.  I had planted a smaller Alberta pine four or five years ago, and it had never been nibbled on by deer.  I observed that mature Alberta pines were thriving all over the neighborhood.  I even saw this label at a local nursery: 
The label gives the name of the tree that I planted, and it states that it is good choice to buy because it is deer resistant.  

I guess the deer in my neighborhood can’t read.  Or, maybe they haven’t had access to the labels and lists that inform gardeners about “deer resistant” plants.  

Several factors figured into the demise of this tree.  We had a terribly dry winter.  The poor deer were starving, and they were thirsty.  My tree was most likely the tastiest looking tree in the neighborhood.  It had been well watered, and the needles must have looked tender and moist and appetizing.  My tree became a food sources for desperate animals.

Desperate creatures do desperate things.  I felt like that tree through most of the late winter and and early spring.  I felt events beyond my control, and people within my family of origin structure chipping away at me.  I felt attacked and stripped as others nibbled away at me when I found myself in a situation I did not create and was powerless to change.  Yep, that tree represented a lot of what I was experiencing this spring.

Quite honestly, during this time, I just didn’t feel like blogging.  I did a lot of journaling.  Writing always helps me when I am going through troubling experiences.  Writing in my journal helps me because by writing in my own personal journal I can record my thoughts, experiences, reactions, feelings, and emotions in a safe place.  Writing gives me a sounding board.  Writing also allows me to sort out all of those thoughts, feelings, and emotions that assail during times of loss, stress, joy, change, or tension.  Writing gives me a chance to reflect, to reconcile my emotions, and reflect upon what is going on in my life.  

Somehow, I got through the difficult month of May.  During the month of May, I also was able to celebrate the graduation of a dear grandson while also having the opportunity to spend time with children and grandchildren.  May brought time plant some flowers, and to spend more time out of doors rejoicing over the beauty found in my neighborhood.  This hillside is just around the corner from my home.  


Just a mile and a half from our home is a beautiful spot that was once a sanatorium.  It is now a retreat center, a nursing home, and the setting includes a cemetery and a church.  I love to walk on the grounds. Truly, I am grateful to live in this beautiful part of the world.  Spring, summer, and fall, I enjoy walking in the special places.  


On the very last day of May, I stopped for a late lunch after running errands and had a serendipitous meeting with a high school friend, her husband, and friend of theirs when they happened to eating lunch at the same Panera where I stopped.  We all lunched together, shared stories and laughter and marveled just how amazing life can be when we have chance meetings and are able to spend time together in rich conversation.


All in all, while the winter had been a rough one for me, and while May had certainly had its low points, it also mostly had some wonderful moments filled with love, family, friends, and milestones.  

More later.

The Passing of the Family Patriarch

Just past midnight I received a text from my daughter Keicha telling me her paternal grandfather had passed away. I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to spend some time with him this fall.  He was a dear and special man in my life. 

On February 14, 1966, I went to work at the Internal Revenue Service in Ogden, Utah.  On that same day, another young man also started working at this same place.  We met two days later, and it was clear that we were quite taken by each other.  We would marry six months later.  

My dear in-laws were our only attendants when my former husband and I married.  I loved these two people as if they were my very own parents.  They always treated me as if I were their daughter.  I could never have picked finer in-laws.  Now, both of them are gone.  


Dad, as I called my father-in-law, worked at IRS during the night shift.  After I was married, and when I was pregnant with my first child, Dad and I would often eat our dinner together at work.  He always checked in on me during break to see how I was doing.  Once, someone asked me who the man was I kept talking to at work.  "I even see you eating lunch with him," the person noted.  I said, "Oh, that is my father-in-law."  The person responded on how young he looked and remarked that they could not believe he was really just my father-in-law.  

He was a young and good looking man in those days.  He was only twenty years or so older than I, but he was very fit and active, so I guess I can understand how people questioned who he really was.  Dad was a river runner, a fisherman, a gardener, and had been quite a skier back in his day. 

Unfortunately, the marriage between my first husband and myself did not last, but my respect for and love for his parents never diminished.  Over the years, they both always treated me with great love and respect also, and I always looked forward to seeing them when I was in Utah, or on the few occasions when they came to Colorado to visit.  This past fall,  I am so grateful I had the see my dear father-in-law one last time.  Below is an account of the occasion:




I think we all have places that have become central to us when we look back on our lives.  Certainly the home of my former in-laws is one of those places for me.  It was in this home where I first got to know my former husband and his family.  Fifty years ago last month, I left this house to walk across the street to the church on the corner to marry my former husband and father of my children.  

Nearly every Sunday afternoon or evening during the years my family was young when I lived in Utah, we would visit Grandma and Grandpa at their home.  Often we were treated with homemade raspberry ice cream made by Grandpa.  The raspberries came from his garden.   His garden kept his grown family and probably half of the neighborhood in fresh produce throughout the summer for as long as I can remember.  How I loved those fresh tomatoes from his garden.  Often, my lunch consisted of just garden fresh tomatoes from Grandpa.

The backyard was the gathering place for so many summer evening picnics to celebrate a birthday, a baby shower, or Father's Day. I asked Grandpa how his garden was doing, and he said he only had a few tomato plants that had not done well this year, oh, and of course there were the raspberries.  And, there had been some good peaches earlier, he said.

Hoping to find some raspberries, Bridger and I headed to the backyard.  We were in luck.  There were a few delicious ripe raspberries waiting to be picked and eaten.  
Keicha came out to see what we were doing.  As she stood on the stairs of the deck memories of the day she walked down those stairs on her wedding day to be married in this very yard also came flooding back.  

My former father-in-law, now in his early 90's,  is a bit stooped over, and he said he can't hear or see "too good," but his voice was strong as he asked for all of the the children and grandchildren, my husband, and for my mother.  He told about a book he was reading.  He reminisced  a bit about the days he was a pilot for Bridger.  His once youthful, handsome face now seemed as if it had been refined by the years he has lived.  He has always been such a kind and good man to me.  Always.  I kissed him on the cheek when we left and told him I loved him.  He remains "Dad" to me.  It was hard to visit him and know that "Mother" is no longer there with him.  I'm so grateful to have had this short visit with him.


*******

It is hard to imagine life without Grandpa Chris in it.  I will forever be grateful that he was a part of my life.  I am also grateful that he was such a great grandfather to my children and grandchildren.  All of them adored him.  I was blessed when I married into his family, and he continued to be a blessing to the generations that were added to his family.  We all will miss him terribly.  He was one of the greatest generation, and he was one of the finest examples of devotion to home, family, church, and country that his generation produced.  My heart is so very sad to see him pass to the next life, but I am grateful to know he no longer suffering and in pain.  My heartfelt condolences go out to his children and grandchildren.  God bless you all.

A Spring Trip to Utah ~ Part I

If my math is correct, there have been fifty-three days between Mother's Day and Father's Day this year.  I look at the calendar for May and June and see that the days have been scheduled with one thing after another.  Seeing the schedule in black and white explains where the days have gone, but where the moment's go I have no idea.  We have begun summer.  Spring sprinted past me.

The highlight of the spring was a trip to Utah early in May.  My husband wanted me to have time with my two oldest children for Mother's Day.  The weather, horrendous at home with heavy rains and record breaking hail storms, was not much better as we drove that all too familiar route between Colorado and Utah through rain storm after rainstorm.
The View of Pike Peak as we left home
I've been making that long trek across Wyoming at least once a year for the past fifty years.  As we drive the 600 plus miles, we always plan to make a pit stop at Little America, a truck stop, gas station, and hotel that is in the middle of nowhere in the wide expanse that is Wyoming.  We have to get our 50¢ ice cream cone.  This year we found that the ice cream cone is now 75¢!  Not only that, but the iconic back to the sixties feel restaurant where we have eaten so many great meals over the years is closed!  We were sad and disappointed to see that a place where we could count on for a good meal is now gone.  We had to settle for eating a fast food type sandwich in the grocery store part of the gas station.  What a disappointment.

As we walked over to where the old restaurant used to be, I sneaked in to take a photo of the breakfast/lunch counter area one walked through on the way to the dining room.  We have spent more than one night over the years sheltered in a room at Little America when we drove across Wyoming in a snowstorm at Christmas time.  We always looked forward to the nice meals we would eat there.  Now we just have our memories of the place.

Iconic Views of Little America, Wyoming

I learned to drive on I80 when I was a teenager driving across Wyoming with my father.  Much has changed since those days.  There is much more traffic, and there are a lot of trucks making the I80 one of the main routes they take across country.  These days, one can drive at 80 miles an hour on parts of I80.  It is often one sees the speed limit posted at 80!



We got a very late start on the day we took the trip across Wyoming.  My husband had worked late the night before.  Since he was planning on doing most of the driving, he slept in.  Then, we had to pack.  I am notorious for not packing until just before I leave on a trip.  It was noon, lunchtime, when we pulled out of the driveway to begin our journey.  I asked my husband if he'd like to look for a place for lunch before we left town.  His answer, "I was thinking I'd have to look for a room to spend the night before we leave town at the rate we are going."

As it turns out, we should have planned ahead and found a room before we left town.  We made slow progress due to the weather on the first day out.  We decided we wanted to get to Rawlings, Wyoming, before stopping for the night.  That is about the half way mark in the trip.  It was raining like crazy when we got to Rawlings, and we could find a room for the night.  I called every hotel or motel I could find listed on the smartphone apps.  All had no vacancy.  This is not the first time we have come up with this problem in Wyoming.  As they say, "This wasn't our first rodeo." We should have known better and booked a room.  Finally, a clerk at one hotel told me of a new hotel that had just opened.  They had one room left.  We took it.  It was a tiny little room.  We barely had room for our suitcases, but we were happy to have it.  

Tired and hungry, after we were checked in, we drove over to the truck stop for dinner.  At 8:00 at night on a rainy night in Rawlings, we were grateful to find a place to eat.  After dinner, we made our way back to the hotel and began to prepare for bed.  That is when the power went out.  A generator had been hit by lightening.  The entire hotel was in the dark.  Grateful for a room, even one with no electricity, we went to bed without our CPAP machines.  At 4:00 in morning the lights, the t.v. and our CPAP machines suddenly came on and woke us up.  So much for a restful night, but we were dry, and we had a bed, and we got a little sleep.

The next day, we made our way across the rest of Wyoming.  As we entered Utah, I had my husband stop so I could get some photos of Devil's Slide, an interesting limestone formation in Morgan County, Utah.  It always fascinates me.  Read more about it here:  Devil's Slide.

As we drove on into Weber Canyon, we observed that spring had arrived with all of its beauty in Utah.  I especially enjoy driving this part of the journey in the spring because of the verdant green pastures where sheep and other farm animals graze on either side of the highway.  I love Utah in the spring.  It is always so beautiful.  Anxious to get to our destination, we didn't stop for photos.

Family Time

We stayed with oldest son Ryan and his bride of one year.  Ryan cooked us up his wonderful fish tacos for dinner that night.  Dinner was great.  Ryan is such a good cook.  Sheridan is also a good cook.  Together, they make a fabulous team.  Of course the presentation is also a delight.  


The next day, we drove north to Ogden to spend some time with Keicha.  We decided we wanted to go to a restaurant that has been serving awesome meals since 1949:  Maddox near Brigham City, Utah.  I remember taking Ryan there as a baby when I celebrated my very first Mother's Day.  They still serve excellent food there.  Sometimes, it is just fun to visit long time favorites when visiting one's old stomping grounds.  Keicha had actually had dinner there the night before, but she didn't mind going again.

Special Mom & Daughter Time
Friday night, we were back in Salt Lake for a special time down in the Ninth and Ninth neighborhood in Salt Lake City.  (Click on the link to read about this fun neighborhood.)  I always love spending time in this neighborhood and have happy memories of the first time Julie took me there when she was a student at the University of Utah.  We went there to look at an apartment, which she ended up renting, one time when she needed to find a new living arrangement.  She was a bit hesitant to even check it out, but I convinced her we needed to go see it.  Even then, this neighborhood seemed so hip to me.  I thought how I would love to live in the area.

Daughter-in-law Sheridan, who was once Julie's roommate, has owned a shop in the area since 1999. She is very involved in the business community events that take place in the area.  Recently, my son Ryan joined her as a business partner.  If you are in Salt Lake City, you must go and visit Hip and Humble.  Every corner is filled with treasures.  You don't have to go to Salt Lake City to shop at Hip and Humble.  You can shop online too!

Hip & Humble
Ryan & Sheridan

We had such a fun evening going in out of various shops that were participating in the art walk.  This shop was once a flower shop that I remember visiting with Julie many years ago.

It was the perfect spring evening.


Remembering My Second Mother

My former mother-in-law passed away last week.  She was nearly 89 years old.  I first met her when she was a young 41.  I was 21.  She became a role model for me.  More than that, she was a second mother.  I've not been an official member of her family for over thirty years, but our hearts were linked, so she continued to be a dear and important figure in my life.  I visited her when I could.  I loved her dearly.  This is my tribute to her.

Nearly fifty years ago I met her.
I don't even remember our first meeting.
It must have been not long after I met her son.
Was it when her son took me to his home where he lived with his parents after an early morning motorcycle ride or tennis game?
We worked nights together.
So, we would go on dates during the day.
Or, was it on a Sunday afternoon that I first went to the home of my former mother-in-law?
Time has taken the first memory of her away from me;
Time has preserved so many more memories.

Gloria Marie Christiansen was like a mother to me for a bit more than a decade and half.
The things she taught me remain forever in my heart and mind.

She was such a quiet, dignified lady.
Always proper,
she had a dry wit that would zing my mind and cause me laugh out loud.
When I first became a regular visitor to her home,
I felt so loud.
They were all so quiet.
She especially was soft spoken.
I am not quiet.
I am not soft spoken.
I am loud.
I doubt she, my former mother-in-law, ever raised her voice.
After my first born's birth, I told her that I could hear him crying louder 
than any of the other babies in the nursery. 
"Oh no, he will take after me,"
I thought.
She said, that it was normal to hear my child above all the other children.
She could always hear my baby's father's voice louder than any of the other kids on the block, she said.
Did we tune in to hear the voices and sounds of our own children over others?
Was this a mother's instinct?
I think she thought it was.

Later, she told me never to take up the side of your own child with another child's parent when the children were having disagreements.
"You never know what your own child did first," she told me.
That was wise advice.
I took it.
I followed it.
She followed this same advice when her son and I divorced.

In my mind, the image of her on the day her son and I were married 48 years ago is still very sharp.
We were engaged, but a wrench had been thrown in our plans for getting married when my former husband received orders to report to boot camp for the Army Reserves.
We knew the orders were coming, but didn't expect them so soon.
We went to talk to her about what to do.
Should we get married that day?
Should we  'elope' by walking across the street to the church to get married?
Could we find a church official to marry us on such short notice?
What time should we marry?
She just listened.
She didn't tell us what to do.
I see her sitting at the dining room table painting her nails as she talked with us.
Finally, she said,
" I wish I knew if we were going to have a wedding tonight or if I should start supper."
I guess that decided it.
We decided we would have a wedding.

The photo of so long ago is cracked and faded.
We all look so young.


Our quickly planned wedding was attended by just my mother-in-law and father-in-law,
and my sister-in-law and her husband.
I wore a quickly purchased dress.
My sister-in-law did my hair.
We walked across the street and were married.
We then all went out to dinner.

At our engagement dinner, she served liver.
I hated liver, but I ate it.
Actually, I could eat liver when she cooked it.

She taught me how to 
can fruit,
and make apricot syrup.

I think of some of her great recipes:
cracker pie,
potato salad,
a tuna casserole made with Bisquick.
I remember all those Sunday afternoons in the summer when we would eat homemade ice cream made from the abundance of raspberries that grew in the garden.

The summer I married her son, 
I had an apartment that my new husband never stayed in because he went off to boot camp.
I guess my mother-in-law thought I needed something to take up my time.
Not long after we were married, she delivered a basket of un-ironed, freshly washed shirts belonging to my husband to me.
I still smile at the memory.
I love that she did that.
Why should she iron them?
Now, that job was mine.

That summer, the summer of 1966 was a hot one.
I spent so many summer afternoons and evenings on the front steps of his parents' home that year.
His sister and I would eat the sour green apples that we covered in salt.
 The apples came from the tree in the backyard.
No doubt my mother-in-law had carefully picked a few good ones for us to eat as we talked with her late into the evening.
My sister-in-law was pregnant and craved green apples covered with salt.
Good times.

Those steps we sat on,
how many times did I sit on those steps with my mother-in-law and other family members and talk?
If we went over for a visit, she'd say, 
"Let's go outside where it's cooler."
Out we would go to sit on the steps and watch the happenings in the neighborhood.
We watched trees being planted,
children riding bikes,
folks walking to church meetings,
teenagers driving cars too fast,
and neighbors who were all a major part of her life.
She'd tell me stories about everyone on the block.
Not gossip, just good stories.
She told me stories of her life.
She was a great storyteller.
(Two of my grandchildren with their great grandparents on the front steps of their home. Parker is next to Grandma and Regan is on her lap.)


I also remember that she would sometimes go out for a walk.
She said she needed time to
"air out her brain."
I think of that statement so often when I walk and think about all I have to think about.

She 'adopted' the elderly neighbors next door who never had children.
She took care of them until they died.

She had a grace and wisdom about her that I've seldom known in others.
When I'd have a new baby, on the first visit to 'meet' the baby,
she'd bring gifts for the other children too.
I remember her bringing a lunch box filled with treats to my firstborn when she came to visit his new sister.  She didn't want him to feel left out.  He got his gift first.  

Her hands, her lovely hands, always carefully manicured by herself,
were busy, productive hands.
She crocheted many treasures.
She taught me to crochet, even though I never mastered it.
She taught me to quilt.
I never mastered that either.

Her home was always tidy as a pin.
Nothing was ever out of order.
The walls were adorned with keepsakes and photos of her family.
The couch would always have lovely pillows and crocheted throw blankets on it.
I'm sure she always made her bed.
She did have one little secret.
We would be at her house for dinner.  We'd eat.  Then it would be time to do the dishes.
That is when she would open the oven.
It would contain dirty dishes from earlier in the day.
I would always laugh.
I don't know if she ever had a dishwasher.
That is where I stash my dirty dishes.

My former mother-in-law was a wonderful grandmother.
I'm grateful my children had her in their lives.
She was a constant for them.
She loved to have them visit her.
She loved to make things special for them.
Sometimes, she would take my children to the movies.
First, they would go to her house to pop corn.
Then, they would get all of her old purses from the 'dress up' play box.
Then, they'd fill the purses with popcorn to eat at the movie.
It makes me smile to even write of those days.
She'd have them over for the day to learn a craft, bake cookies, or have a picnic.
There was a closet full of toys when the kids were younger.
There was a box of old clothes for playing dress up.
Each event that involved a grandchild or grandchild was a special event where she made little sandwiches, or had a special activity planned.
She made each child feel special.

My former mother-in-law, whom I always called "Mother,"
was the best mother-in-law anyone could ever have.
She never interfered in my life.
She was always kind and loving towards me.
She always showed me great respect and much love.

I joined the LDS (Mormon) Church just before I married into this woman's family.
I left the LDS (Mormon) Church while I was going through the divorce from her son.
She never showed or spoke judgement towards me.
Never.
She continued to show me the same love and acceptance she had always given me whenever I would go to visit her in the thirty plus years since I was a member of her family.

I will remember all those wonderful family gatherings I had at her home.
I will remember how we always went to Salt Lake City to shop when the men went deer hunting.
It was the big event of the year.
We called it Deer Shop.
She had started the tradition with her sister years ago.
It continues to this day, even though the guys no long go hunting.

I will remember many picnics,
river rafting trips,
camping trips,
and
fishing trips.
I will remember a woman who blessed my life beyond measure.

My Julie could have been her clone.
They looked so much alike.
Her prominent features are features I see in each of my own children.
This photo was taken of her with my girls just before Julie died.

Keicha, Grandma Chris, Julie, Amy

Her dry wit, her humor, her intelligence were gifts to all of us.
She could play by ear nearly instrument she picked up.
She wrote her school song many years ago.

Today, she was laid to rest.
Her funeral service was held in the exact same spot where I married her son 48 years ago.
All of my children were there.
Sadly, I could not make the trip due to other commitments.
As her dear husband remembers her,
and as others remember their dear mother, grandmother, aunt, great grandmother,
I too remember and honor her.

She was a
caring,
giving,
gracious woman.
She blessed my life, and the lives of my children and grandchildren in countless ways.
We all will miss her greatly.










The Little Country Wedding

My son and his beautiful bride were married during the middle week of June in Boulder, Utah.
It was the best wedding ever.
My son, the groom, was teary-eyed throughout it all.
The bride could not stop smiling.
The sheer joy emitted from these two will not soon be forgotten by any in attendance.

Ryan and Sheridan
A disclaimer is in order.
Photographer/participant do not go well together.
I wanted to take my own personal photos,
but mostly, I wanted to just enjoy the moment.
Also, I took so many photos, that I just might crash this blog by sharing them all.
Not only that, I just could not begin to capture the scope of this wedding.
It was in the country.
It was not "little."
No detail was missed to make this wedding perfect.
Some said it was like a Martha Stewart Wedding.
That is not correct.
A Martha Stewart Wedding would not have been as relaxed, joy filled, fun, and beautiful
as this wedding was.
Going to this wedding was like going to a great family reunion.
It wasn't just a wedding.
It was the event of the year for our family.


There was:
family,
love,
laughter,
tears,
hiking,
fishing, 
volleyball,
soccer,
football,
croquet,
bonfires,
smores,
dress up clothes for
polaroid camera photos,
flowers,
candles,
dancing,
music,
daily agendas,
food,
drink,
friends,
fancy restaurant meals
barbecues,
cowboy boots,
cowboy hats,
fancy dresses,
a gourmet wedding supper
prepared by chefs written up in the New York Times,
Sunset Magazine, Fodors,
homemade ice cream
outstanding scenery,
a full moon, 
the coming together 
of two families,
and
much
celebratory
JOY!
The bride accompanied by her two sons

My son awaits his bride.
My son and his children.
Parker, Ryan, Bridger, Regan

There is more to come.  I just wanted to give you a small snapshot into it all before I fill you in on all the details.  Stay tuned...



Our Trip to Moab

This winter has been so hard for so many.
For me, it has been especially hard
mentally,
emotionally,
spiritually,
physically.

I think it was the endless sieges of ill health that assailed my body that caused me to think that those days when the mind, soul, and body are renewed and energized by warm weather and sunshine would never again occur.  
Several weeks ago, I bought three bouquets of tulips.
The snow swirled around my car in a blinding storm as I brought the flowers home.
Once home, 
dressed in my snow  boots, and my warmest down filled hooded parka, I carefully made my way across the street to deliver a bouquet of tulips to my neighbor who had been housebound for weeks.  
Independent, a lover of dogs and of flowers,
this neighbor had slipped in the middle of a city street and broken several ribs.
The injury had left her unable to do much of anything.
I knew she needed flowers as much as I did.  
Once home, I arranged a few bouquets to brighten my own home.
Outside the kitchen window, the trees covered with snow provided a beautiful backdrop for the tulips and for the springtime flowers sent to me by my son for my birthday.
With flowers such as these in the house, spring could not be far away, I told myself.

The snow from this storm quickly melted.
But the earth near our home did not give me any indication that spring was coming.
I needed greenery.
I needed to see some yellow daffodils,
or some yellow forsythia.
I needed to feel the sunshine.
I needed a change of scenery.

Months ago,
my daughter had wanted to run a half marathon to celebrate a milestone birthday.
Most of my children and all of Jim's decided they would run with her.
Unfortunately,
life got in way for her, and she could not run,
nor could my other children because of injuries from training.
Jim's daughter's and his son-in-law trained all through the
long,
cold,
wet,
and windy
winter.
We wanted to make sure we supported their efforts,
so last week my husband and I left our home and headed to Moab, Utah.

As we drove over the high mountain passes where snow was piled higher on the sides of the road than I remember seeing  it in a long time, I began to wonder what the coming of spring would mean to the high country.
With all that snow, I worried about the danger of flooding as it melted.
Not even believing that I was expressing the sentiments I felt in my heart, I said to my husband,
"I hope we have a cool spring without any early warm days."
My head and heart knew that it would be best for all if we did not see a rapid melt of all that snow.
Still, I longed for a sign of spring.

Once we were on the Western Slope of Colorado, green began to appear.
I'd hoped my mother's daffodils would be blooming as a way of greeting me to her home.
We were a few days too early for that, but one bud had a slight yellow tip.
"There is that sign of spring I needed," I thought as I walked to my mother's front door.

We only spent one night at my mother's home.
The next day, following her suggestion, we traveled Highway 128 to Moab, Utah. (click on the link to see more about this highway and see photos of it.)
We stopped along the side of the road for a moment because my husband got a phone call.
With spotty cell phone coverage, he decided to stop and take the call where he had a good signal.
This provided the perfect opportunity for me to stretch my legs, and so I stepped outside the car and took a photo of the desolate land before us.
At this point in the journey, my husband, who had never been to Moab, or traveled this route, probably wondered why I had said this would be a beautiful, scenic route to take.
If you look at the base of the mountains, you will see the mesa like landscape that are the magnificent rock formations that are near Moab, Utah.

When we came to the place where the road crossed the Colorado River,
we saw the remains of the old Dewey's Bridge spanning the river.
I asked my husband to park the car in the Dewey's Bridge Campground.
This is the view of the rocks that are on the other side of the river from the river.
I had to get out and walk now that we were in a beautiful setting.
Just look at that sky.  What a beautiful day it was.
  As we approached the bridge, I couldn't help but think how great it felt to again be out walking in air that was warm on ground that was beginning to show signs of spring.
Built in 1916, the Dewey's Bridge has a wonderful history.
The wooden plank single lane bridge was the longest suspension bridge west of the Mississippi River when it was built.
It held many memories for travelers to this part of the country before it was burned down in 2008 by child playing with matches.
Photo from internet

One can only imagine how intriguing it must have been to cross this once great bridge.



Cow now graze under where the planks of the bridge were supported by this suspension system.
(Do you see the black cows just right of center towards the bottom of the bridge?)


Jim took my photograph near the bridge site. Can you see how happy I am to be out in the warm sunshine?


This part of Utah is so beautiful and unique.  If you ever get a chance to travel Route 128, take it.
I didn't take many photos, but here are a few.




Moab, Utah is a destination place for bikers and hikers.
It is also the setting for the Moab Canyonlands Half Marathon which is held every spring.
As we drove closer and closer to Moab, we began to sense the great excitement that others who had been training all winter must be experiencing.
All along the river, camps where very hearty runners would spend the night before the big race were being set up.
I can't imagine sleeping on the ground in a tent before running a half marathon the next day.
Can you?


It was quite easy to determine where the race would begin.


Porta pottys were being set up to serve the hundred of runners who would be transported by bus to this area the next morning from Moab.  From this starting place, the runners would run 13.5 miles on Highway 128 along the Colorado River back to Moab, Utah.


I can only imagine how exhilarating this race must be.

Once we got to Moab, I thought I might try to pick up the race packets for my children even though they weren't going to be able to run the race.
They had paid the registration fee, and I thought they might want the cool shirt that was in the packet.
That way they could wear the shirt and pretend they ran even when they didn't.
Seriously, the shirts were very nice, and one can always use another shirt to run in.
I was able to pick up four packets for each of my four runners that did not make it.
I took the four energy bars that were inside as payment for picking up the packets.


I could not believe how good I felt in Moab.
The altitude of a little over 4,000 feet meant that I could sleep without oxygen.
I could walk and not suffer from tachycardia.
The sunshine helped to lift my mood.
It seemed we had truly left winter behind.

We spent the night a large rented house with the family members that had actually showed up to run.
(My children really did have good reasons why they couldn't run, I just wish they could have made it.)
Jim's two daughters and their families were there with us.
Jim's oldest grandson and his fiancé also stayed with us.
It was great to meet our soon to be newest addition to the family.
Aren't they a cute couple?

We had eight adults and five children in the house.
Jim's daughters made a wonderful pasta dinner for us that night.
The next day was the big race.
More on that later.






Wrapping Up Christmas - Part II

This was the year that I was going to keep Christmas simple.  I was not going spend as much money, and I was not going to do as much decorating.  At first,  I thought we would aim at a quiet Christmas at home.  Then, I changed my mind.  I decided I really did want to go to Utah for Christmas.  It had been nearly two years since I'd been over to see the grandkids.  I did not want to miss out on seeing them all again.  Jim hates to drive over to Utah in the winter.  Despite having written a recent blog post (click on highlight to read) about not driving in the snow, I had convinced him, and myself, that we should drive the twelve to fourteen hour trip during the 2013 Christmas holiday.  I suggested we leave a window open on the date for departure and leave when the weather promised to be best.  Somehow, against his better judgement, my husband agreed to this plan.

A few days after we had made the decision to make the trip, my daughter Amy called and said that there were great airfares on round-trip between Denver and Salt Lake City on Frontier if we were willing to fly on Christmas Day.  Then, she went on to tell me she did not want us driving.  She said driving was foolish, expensive, and dangerous this time of year.  She said we needed to fly.  Of course, she was right.  Jim immediately went on line and booked our flights and rented a car to use while we were there.  Deep down inside, I was relieved.  Flying would be so much easier than driving.

The change in trip plans meant I had to get all the gifts wrapped and ready to ship.  I did not want to carry them on the plane with me.  This also meant that we celebrated Christmas about four times.  First, we celebrated with the family in Colorado.  Then, Jim and I exchanged gifts on the night of the 23rd.  Then on Christmas Eve, we left early in the afternoon to drive to Amy's near Boulder, Colorado to spend Christmas Eve with her and her two children.  We exchanged our gifts with them that evening and then went out for a special dinner.  Jim and I then drove to DIA (Denver International Airport), which is only about twenty minutes from Amy's house, and spent the night at a hotel.  The next morning, Christmas Day, we flew to Salt Lake.  We were surprised how busy both airports were.  I guess more and more people travel on Christmas Day.  I do think the lower rates make it more attractive to do so.

Immediately upon landing in Salt Lake City, about 3:00 in the afternoon, we drove the twenty minute drive to the home of my soon to be daughter-in-law's parents' home.  I had never met Sheridan's large family, nor had I met her parents.  We literally crashed into the middle of their huge Christmas party.  Sheridan is one of six children, and nearly every child has a large family.  Being a part of this family gathering was an awesome experience.  They are a wonderful family.  I felt blessed knowing that my son in marrying into such a beautiful and gracious family.

The Happy Couple
Ryan and Sheridan
When Sheridan and Ryan tie the knot later this spring, they will be creating a blended family that will include Sheridan's two young boys and Ryan's three children.  These kids are already just like siblings. It warmed my heart to see the love and connection they all have with each other.  I captured this precious picture of Sheridan, note the beautiful engagement ring on her finger, giving a loving glance towards her son Max and Ryan's daughter Regan who are sharing a chair and a moment.  Ryan's son Parker is looking on as he sits in front of the fireplace at Sheridan's parents' home.


Here, Max is helping Ryan's son Bridger check out the cool hunting pack that Bridger got from one of the cousins on Sheridan's side during the family gift exchange.  Bridger, and Max, both loved the gift. 


Soon, it was time to move on to Sheridan's home for another Christmas party.  We planned to exchange our family gifts after daughter Keicha, her daughter Gillian, and her friend Mike drove down from Ogden.  After the gift exchange, we would all have Christmas dinner which was prepared by Ryan and Sheridan.  Sheridan's sister and her family would also join us.  (I know, I should provide a chart so you can all keep track of who is who!)

After we drove the mile or so to Sheridan's house and walked in the door, we literally almost tripped over Parker (my oldest grandson) who was right inside the door putting together the family Christmas present from Santa.  It was a green machine.  Soon, it was assembled and moved outdoors.  As you can imagine, it is designed to give the rider a wild ride full of excitement.


Upon entering the house, on the entry table, Sheridan had a tasteful display of family photos, books, plants, and artwork.  There among the special items was a bit of a heartbreaker.  A framed photo of Julie with her head in the mouth of a giant lion statute at the Salt Lake Zoo was placed next to a small urn of her ashes.  That photo was taken about twelve or thirteen years ago when the entire family made an excursion to the zoo. Julie was teasing the children who were toddlers then.  Back in those days, Julie was Sheridan's roommate, friend from work, fellow student at the U of U, and best friend.  While we all knew Sheridan well, Ryan had never met her until after Julie died. Now, Sheridan, will soon join our family when she marries Ryan.  

Not long after arriving at Sheridan's, I went to the window and snapped a photo of the Salt Lake valley below her beautiful home in Bountiful.   The sun was beginning to set on a wonderful Christmas Day.  We had successfully made our trip, and we were with family.  Nothing makes me happier than to be surrounded by my family.  I was a happy mama.  

It is always great when cousins can be together.  Here is Regan, Ryan's daughter, and my second oldest grandchild, with Gillian, Keicha's daughter, who is my fourth born grandchild.  They were both born the same year, but because Regan was born in January, and Gillian in October, they are one year apart in school.
Gillian & Regan
The kids are ready for another round of gift opening, but I think Grandpa Jim is tired and over the gift exchanges that have gone on for days.


I like to pick out gifts for the grandchildren for Christmas, but I worry that they won't really like my selections.  If they ask for gift cards, or money, that works too.  I was so excited about Bridger's gift.  I don't know why, but I hoped he would really like them.  I had so much fun picking out these red Van's.  I see a small smile on his face as he opens the gift.


Phew…I think he really likes them!


Now, I worry about Parker's gift.  Will he like a Pendleton shirt?  Will he like red?  He seems to like it.


Yep, he likes it, and I think he looks very good in it.  Ok, I am a grandmother, and I brag about my grandkids, but, isn't he one handsome boy?


The girls unwrapped their matching pajamas and matching scarves along with other gifts from me.  Hannah also got matching p.j.s.  I wish she could have been here with her cousins for the Utah celebration.

This year, all of my children received the same sentimental gift from me.  While I was on Vashon Island in October, I found a gift shop called Giraffe Home.  Of course I was drawn to the shop because Julie's favorite animal was the giraffe.  It seemed that all of us would always look for a giraffe keepsake to bring home to Julie on every trip we went on.  At Giraffe Home, I found the perfect card.  On the front of the card was a drawing of a giraffe that caught my eye.  Inside, there was a beautifully written poem called Giraffe Blessing.

In so many ways, the poem epitomized Julie.  It seemed to be a message she would want us all to take to heart.  I bought a card for each of my children.  I also found the perfect Christmas tree ornament to go with the card:  A silver giraffe.  We all cried when the gift was opened.  I am sure Julie would have loved the gift.


Soon, the gifts were all opened and Ryan and Sheridan resumed the preparation for our scrumptious Christmas dinner.  The girls got into their new p.j.s.  (I notice that Parker made an appearance in the photo in what is called a "photobomb."   Note his flexed muscle on the left of the photo.  I didn't notice it until I published the photo.  Kids these days!  LOL)


Parker tried on his new backpack, a Christmas gift from his dad. This outdoorsman who loves to hike, ski, fish, and hunt is ready for more adventures.


I also caught a photo of Bridger warming up in front of the fire.  I think this spot,
and this one, are favorite spots in the house.  This is the same fireplace that gives off warmth on two sides.

Christmas Day 2013, was anything but simple.  It was complicated and took great planning.  It was also packed with so many gifts.  Jim and I enjoyed a relatively easy flight early in the day.  We then were blessed to be included in Sheridan's extended family celebration.  It was a rare and special treat to be with my two oldest children and their children on Christmas Day.  We then were treated to a truly fabulous Christmas dinner that was prepared by my son and Sheridan.  We enjoyed spending time with Sheridan's sister and her family who joined us for dinner.  This celebration was truly one for the books.  Jim ended the day by reading his Kindle in his own special spot near the Christmas tree.  Thank you Ryan and Sheridan for this special day.


Only one thing would have made the entire Christmas celebration better:  having son Jonathan and his family with us.  They did not come to either Colorado or Utah for the holidays this year.  We missed them greatly.  Maybe next year…

*  There is still more to come.  I will share our "vacation" part of the trip to Utah next.

Spending Time With #1 Son

This summer, I've been able to spend some time with my #1 son.  I hesitate to call my oldest child and oldest son by the title of #1 Son because some may think that the title denotes favortism.  I assure you it does not.  For some reason, I've just referred to my eldest child as #1 over the years.

My oldest son lives in Utah, so that means we must travel in order to spend time together.  He is a banker who works very long hours during the workweek and commutes an hour each way to work every day.  Needless to say, he is very busy and does not get a lot of time off work.  I try to spend at least a week in Utah every summer and try to make at least one additional trip a year to spend time with him and his family and my daughter and her daughter.  

Ryan at Julie's Service
This year, Ryan made two trips to Colorado to visit.  This was a rare treat for me.  He was here for a few days at Christmas, and then he was here for a few days over the Memorial Day Weekend.  Ryan has been such a strength to me throughout the entire process of settling Julie's estate when it came to taking care of all the financial matters that occur after a death.  I don't know what I would have done without his financial wisdom and knowledge.   I've always valued his financial knowledge when I've turned to him for advice, but his fair and impartial ability to sort through many issues was truly priceless when I needed it in settling a difficult situation.

Ryan is a fun guy to be around.  He has a great sense of humor.  I love his take on life, people, and situations.  He has top notch social skills.  He makes friends easily and keeps them for a lifetime.  He likes to make people laugh and have a good time.

He also loves to cook.  On Sunday morning of Memorial Day Weekend, he got up and fixed breakfast for my husband and me.  Here he is in my apron.  I have others that aren't quite so feminine, but he grabbed the first one he saw before he began to fry up some bacon. 

Later that weekend, after he and I drove to Northern Colorado to stay with my daughters and a friend from Utah who would all be running the Boulder Boulder the next day, he made us some panzanella.  I was quite impressed and thought it was quite yummy, but then, I'm his mom.  


Ryan says cooking helps him relax after a hard day at the bank  Actually, he has always loved cooking.  I remember when he took cooking in junior high, he came home with all kinds of new recipes to try out on the family.

So, when I was in Utah in June, I had the opportunity to enjoy some more of his cooking.

Father's Day Barbecue



Ryan and Stephanie
Father's Day 2011
Ryan checks his email on his phone while others are serving themselves some scrumptious barbecued food he had prepared for a Father's Day celebration.  

  

We had grilled veggies and wonderful spare ribs that had been prepared using Ryan's special sauce.


Cousins, Regan and Gillian initially came to the celebration dressed as Dracula and bride.


Then, they changed outfits and came as bat woman and another wacky bride.  Regan has a belt made from her pajama bottoms and hat made from a cheering pom pom.  Note the make up they applied for this photo.  Don't you just love the RED lipstick?


They are being silly, but I think they will both be beauties someday.  Of course, I'm the grandmother, so I am a bit biased.  Actually, they are already quite beautiful in my eyes.


A shot of them being silly in the back yard.


Bridger has just made me the perfect smore in this photo.


Four of my grandchildren roast marshmallows around the fire pit on Ryan's wonderful back patio.


Summer Solstice Party

My oldest grandson, had a bunch of buddies over for a summer solstice party while I was in Utah.  After the party, he drove me back to my daughter's house a few miles away.  It seems very odd to think that my oldest grandchild will soon have his driver's license.  I was impressed with his driving ability while I was being chauffeured around.


While the kids ate hamburgers and fix-in's out on the patio, Ryan fixed me a perfect hamburger, just the way I like it.

While I was visiting with Ryan and his family, I had the opportunity to go shopping for a few supplies for an upcoming scout trip that he and Parker were taking later that week to the Moab area.  It was a biking, rafting, rock climbing excursion.  Ryan, who earned his Eagle Scout Badge as a young teenager, took some time off work to lead this trip for Parker's scout trip.  It was so great to see his excitement as he prepared for the trip.  It took me back to his days as a scout.  It brought back many happy memories and proud moments when I saw him inducted into the Order of the Arrow during a harrowing lightening, thunderstorm in the mountains of Idaho over 25 years ago.  I've always been proud of his achievement of reaching the rank of Eagle Scout.  It is great to see him now giving back to scouting as he takes his own son and others on scouting trips.  He is following in the footsteps of his paternal grandfather, another Eagle Scout, when he does this.

There are two special memories of Ryan that I  carry with me in my heart.  In both memories, he has the same look of absolute pride and sense of accomplishment.  One was the day he emerged from the workshop in the basement of his childhood home with the first completed birdhouse for his Eagle Scout project. He had constructed it on his own using a power saw.  Pride was written all over his face.  

I saw that same look of pride, accomplishment, and amazement when he emerged from the delivery room carrying his first-born son and my first grandson.  His eyes said, "Mom, look what I've produced!"  These memories, and the ones we continue to make whenever possible, are treasures that become more valuable as each year goes by.




More Highlights from My Trip to Utah

While I was in Utah, my oldest daughter and I decided to tackle some work that needed to be done in her yard.  Keicha really has an adorable house in a wonderful neighborhood.  The planter near her side door says it all and is a great indicator of the tasteful, colorful, country garden look that she has created in this area of her yard.

No matter how much care we use in planting and caring for gardens, as they grow, we find that there are issues to address.  The lavender grows too big and must be trimmed.  The vines planted by the former occupant of the house keep growing up the brick walls of the house and rock wall built surrounding the house.  So, the two of us put on our gardening gloves and took hold of gardening tools and went to work on trimming and pulling and cutting.  We did this off and on for three days.

Working side-by-side with my daughter in the yard was wonderful.  We both agree that pulling weeds is good for the soul.  We shared some memories of Julie and laughed and cried as we both try to figure out how to live life after the life we knew and loved has been altered forever.  We didn't figure that out.  As a mom, I am just hobbling along trying to set an example of hope while knowing that broken hearts take a long time to heal.

Cutting back lavender and columbines

Keicha supervised by Lucy Lou weeds her vegetable garden

My daughter's vegetable garden, planted near her side door, is doing well despite the lack of sun that they have had in Utah this year.  As I study the photo of her carefully weeding her tomatoes, squash and other vegetables, I am stuck by how quickly life goes by.  I study my daughter, now an adult who owns her own home, has worked at her place of employment for over 20 years, has a daughter who will soon be a teenager, who is working in soil of her home which is located right next door to the doctor who delivered her and all of my other children.  


It seems like life goes by way too quickly.  It seems like just yesterday I was the young mother who just gave birth to this beautiful daughter.  Yet my daughter, now grown, has a neighborly relationship with the older retired man who lives next door who was also the doctor who cared for her before she was born.  




As Keicha works in her garden, I photographed another one of her garden planters.  This one clearly states, "He who plants a garden, plants happiness."  I like the message that this gives.  I like that gardens speak of hope, of joy, of fulfillment, of creativity, and of beauty.  I know that gardens also mean that one must labor and work hard.  They mean that the gardener must be persistent, determined and not be easily discouraged when there is too little sun or too much rain.  We learn much in the garden about life, but mostly I hope that our gardens bring us joy and happiness.  I'm grateful for the little bit of time I had digging in the dirt with Keicha.  I hope I can spend more time in years to come doing just a little work in her garden.  


I must confess we did not spend all of our time working.  We took an afternoon off  from gardening so I could get a pedicure while Keicha ran errands.  Later that afternoon, we went to our favorite spa for wonderful massages and time in the eucalyptus steam room.  We relaxed and enjoyed it so much that we were shocked to find that nearly three hours had passed and it was early evening when we actually left the spa.

We also spent an afternoon at my favorite lunch spot, The Greenery at Rainbow Gardens.  A trip to Utah just wouldn't be complete if I didn't get up to Rainbow.  I had to have a Mormon Muffin for sure.
Keicha
Gillian
Off to Camp
I was also able to spend a little time with Gillian, Keicha's daughter before she went off to church camp. Unfortunately, my visit overlapped the time when she was gone for most of the week, but we had a little time together.  I'm sure she'll be taller than I am by the next time I see her.  I snapped a photo before she headed off to camp with her cool, peace symbol covered bag slung over her shoulder.  Yes, my grandbabies are all growing up way too fast.