Thursday, November 27, 2014

family photos

Thanksgiving Day, 2014. We decided it would be a good day to take some family photos for our Christmas card this year. It is hard to get 8 busy adults together. Even though we all live here in the valley, we are spread out over 20 miles and 2 colleges, and 8 jobs, and 4 wards. So we begged a friend to come take some pictures, (thank you Jordan). I knew we'd be short on time from a late Thanksgiving dinner, to clean up, to getting ready for photos, to late in the day lighting issues. So we opted for an office complex a few blocks from our house. It is the 3rd time over the years we have used this location. 
Here are the 4 of these kids today, and again on the same rock 7 years ago. 

Dave and I on a similar bridge in the complex, now and a few years back.

 One thing I've noticed at this complex is that they have moved to more low maintenance desert landscaping around their fountains. You can see the difference in the vegetation just between the two pictures of the kids. But like I said, we have used this same place 3 times. Here is what it looked like 5 years earlier in 2002.  The photo below is just on the backside of the fountain of the photo above.  Nevertheless, the fountains are still pretty, the koi fish seem to be happy and it is close by in the neighborhood. (And I realized Jordan's mother, Lezlee, took this picture for us so many years ago.)

As we snapped the picture of our four kids, I immediately realized it didn't feel right. We don't have 4 kids anymore. We have 6 kids. This picture is much better! Love these guys. It is fun being parents of adult children. We had such a great Thanksgiving day as they all brought their talents and efforts and cooking skills to the table today to prepare an amazing and delicious Thanksgiving meal. 
 It will be fun to continue our family photos as our family grows and grows from here on out.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

my cars

I got through high school without a car. Mostly because I had a staggering income of about $45 a week, supplemented by an occasional babysitting job. I also survived without a car because we lived within walking distance of work, church, school and bicycling distance of friends. Some of my friends were luckier than I and had a car that I took advantage of as a passenger. I also survived my first year of college without a car. My parents were kind enough to drive me to a neighboring state and drop me and my bicycle off in a dorm room and again everything was within walking or bicycling distance. After my freshman year of college, I spent the summer in Phoenix to work and save money for the next school year and obviously to get around in Phoenix, I would finally need a car. My brother-in-law Kevin, took me around to some used dealerships and although I fell in love with a little orange Fiat, Kevin wouldn't let me pursue that purchase because he said the repair costs of a foreign sports car would be expensive. I didn't know why he would be worrying about a silly thing like that. (Little did I know how much repair costs and labor would be a part of my life in the coming years). Anyway, we found a Toyota that was a good little car to get me around Phoenix for my summer job and back up to St George Utah for my second year of college. This was the only car I can remember washing and waxing regularly and kept so very clean and polished. The fun of that quickly wore off and a more moderate level of car care became the norm. I bought this first car with a significant down payment for a young college student, but also carried some debt. If I remember right the payments were $78 a month for 30 months. It was a difficult payment, but since I was finishing school at ASU, I had to have a car for the regular route between school, work and home. This beauty, although mechanically sound, had no Air Conditioning. I drove it in Phoenix for the 3 years I attended ASU in Tempe. I lived in Phoenix. I'd go out to my car after school in the afternoons, open the door to the car to let the 190 degree interior air escape, and then drove home in the 115 degree air all the way to Phoenix, sweaty from head to toe day after day. Good times!

When I graduated from college and was looking for my first "real" job, my dad was involved in a car dealership in northern Arizona where he lived. I was looking for a good car, he found a good deal and I bought a brand new Toyota that my dad picked out for me -- sign unseen. I'm not sure this picture is exactly the same model I drove, it seemed to me to have had a more dramatic slant down the front hood, but it did have pop-up headlights (or retractable halogen headlights) which I loved. 

Knowing what I know about debt now, I probably should have kept the first car for another year or two until I had been employed for a longer period of time, but I think I got this one fairly soon after graduation. I also carried a debt on this. I don't remember anything about the original cost, or the payment plan. I do know however, that as we drove this car when I got married, I had a husband that dented and dinged it up more than once (I use the word "ding" loosely. He wrecked it!) Anyway, we had a baby and I stopped working full time, we were poor, and our insurance rates got increased once too many times and we had to get away from a cute sporty car with payments to an old boat of a car with no payments. So in 1987, we bought a 1976 Mercury Marquis and drove it for the next 4 or 5 years. Fancy right? I'm remembering that it often didn't have air conditioning either. Dave said it did at first, but all my memories are of having to keep babies cool in the hot back seat of this car. Rachel was in kindergarten when we started looking for a new car. I remember Rachel expressed embarrassment at driving the Mercury. I must have really been in bad shape by then. 

 Then we slipped into a 20 year period of driving mini-vans. One after another after another. A red one, a white one and a silver one - all used, and the red one had a full engine overhaul at one point. Dave did it himself - hundreds of pieces of engine laying out on our driveway and put back together in proper order and the car ran. I remember in the middle of that project, our bishop happened to walk up our driveway to our house. Dave had gone inside and Brady was out there alone in the middle of the hundreds of engine pieces laying around. He said "Does your dad know you did that?" (haha) Come to think of it, I think Dave rebuilt the engine of the Mercury at one point too. He was a Super Hero during those years keeping our cars running. 

 This one is a google search of a similar white van to what we owned.

The only picture I have of our actual car is this one. Our kids wrapped it around a telephone pole. You might think the wrecked body is the main thing to see in this picture. But it's not. The other significant thing to see is that this van had blue flowers down each side of the car. I don't actually know why. They were there when we purchased it. Actually when Dave purchased it. I think I would have nixed a van with flower power on it, but Dave bought it for us while I was out of town. It was a one of a kind vehicle, so people would constantly say "I saw you at the Library," or "I saw you at the intersection," or "I saw your van at the church" etc etc. I had no anonymity around town. Although it was a scary situation for our 3 kids involved, I was kind of glad to get another van. 

Which was the reason we needed to buy one more, and in a hurry. A used 2003 Chrysler Town and Country Mini Van. 

 Last year, after 9 years of loyal service, our beloved mini van was squawking and making all kinds of crazy noises that were alarming to me and to nearby motorists so we finally made a decision to move on.  We ended up with a Durango, which as I evaluate the features, it is as close to being a minivan without being one. It still has the 3 row of seats if needed, it still has a lot of cargo space when the seats are folded down, it still sits up a little high off the ground. But it feels more grown up than the mini van of years gone by. Someone asked me recently why we bought a Dodge. I don't know. I had a list of interior features I wanted and I wanted a blue car so we started shopping from my checklist.  In the end, I have been very happy with it. We purchased it with the intention of keeping it for 10 years. I hope I still like it at the 9 1/2 year mark. 
Dave has a separate and distinct story of his vehicles over the years. He has had old cars and old trucks, and finally a decade ago bought a big brand new Chevy truck for work which is now quite old, but he loves it dearly and I think he would consider rebuilding it before getting another one. 
I'm trying to decide if 7 cars over a 34 year period of time is excessive or if it is normal. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

work trip to idaho

Dave and I bought a house. In Idaho. (fyi--that is not the house in the background of the above picture) It's Dave's childhood home and we are hoping to get it up and ready for rent. However, it has been occupied by an elderly man (Dave's dad, or course) who in his later years had not kept it up to par as he did in his younger years. We needed to go get it cleaned out and up to code, update the bathrooms, plumbing, clean up the lot that had been vacant and uncared for for a couple of years etc. I went through the house and cleaned out drawers and cupboards and 'stuff', and Dave cleared up some problems outside the yard (caving in an old root cellar, cleaning up weeds and debris around the property etc) as well as updating one of the bathrooms. Anyway, we tried to make it an enjoyable trip. As I am writing this months after the trip, I found some notes I took during the trip.

There is a fine balance between speakers in the car turned to the drivers side so Dave can hear his audio book and volume balanced on my device and earphones so I can enjoy my music. It is almost a scientific equation.

We bought a brand new GPS for this trip. Apparently it had been sitting on the store shelf for a LONG time, the maps were so outdated!

We do some fire safety service in a building in Tuba City. It is a small service, but it is part of a chain of services we do in other parts of the city/state. It is definitely not financially equal to a separate trip for such a small service, so every year we make a stop in Tuba City to do some inspections on our way to Utah.

We drove through St George in southern Utah. I only lived there 2 years, but there are so many fond memories.

The speed limit on parts of the freeway in Utah is 80 mph. Love it!

I dropped a paper between the seats in car. I reached down to get it and my fingers went into a very ripe plum I brought and forgot about and apparently lost down beside the seat.  Gross surprise.

Got in the car to run into town and the GPS was set to "french" language. I guess that's one way to learn a language.

There was a text message conversation regarding the old toilet at Grandpa's house with Melanie:
Melanie: "Wow, I didn't know you guys were remodeling so much. but good thing. I always thought that bathroom smelt funny. It was probably the carpet."
Me: "Yeah, I haven't stepped in there barefoot for years. We're putting in new faucets, one new sink, flooring, fresh paint and a new mirror. It will be exciting to use that bathroom again."
Melanie: "I hope you took before pictures to show how awesome your renovation is."
Me: "I took pictures during, but we'll have to just remember the funky carpet, the two different paint colors, the 1960's floral wallpaper, and all the random nails and hooks to hang towels on. AND . . . the supporting wood under the toilet was rotten. Any one of us could have fallen through to the scary crawl space under the house!"
Melanie: "Oh my gosh, if that happened to me I would literally crap myself. That bathroom was so sketch! Thank you for giving that Oval Office some dignity.

We bought plenty of groceries to get through the week, then chose to go out to dinner almost every night.

We found so many odds and ends in the cupboards. It makes me wonder how and why I place things around my house.

We found a stash of plastic bags. I know there is a system in every house to save plastic or paper grocery bags. But we found a stash of decades of bags, both in the house and in the garage. I realize everyone needs a plastic bag occasionally, but wow - an unusually large number of bags! (as well as plastic bottles with lids (empty and saved) and ice cream tubs (empty and saved), LOTS!

We found a water color set in the hall closet. I'm not sure if Delos or Betty was dabbling in art, but the paint set had Delos' name on it. It would be more logical if Betty was the one painting.

The original house was built with well planned and thoughtful workmanship and high quality building materials, then everything since was pieced and patched. It seems like a weird thought process to see nails, strings, patches etc holding things together.

There is no internet in the house so we were doing business without our computer, only with our phone.  It mostly worked but we needed to read and sign documents for a real estate transaction so we had to go into town and do work for an hour at Office Max.

We made two trips to the Eastern Idaho State Fair (20 minutes away). Once we went because Dave just wanted to go down memory lane. He attended that fair many many times growing up. The second time we went, a missionary that used to serve in our area, Jeremiah Heneger, was there and we wanted to have a quick visit with him. It's always fun to catch up with friends.
Potato on a stick and batter dipped fried bacon!

We also visited with Delos (living with Brent and Vee now), Brent and Vee, Derek and Tristina, Annalyn and Warren, and their exchange student, Sam.  We also stopped to see Chelsea and the kids on the way home.

It was a very productive trip, We got a lot done and had a little fun on the side.

niagara falls with suzanne

Suzanne always has a trip in the back of her mind in various states of planning. Once in a while they just pop up at the right time and the right circumstances for me to enjoy them with her. She had always wanted to visit Niagara Falls, I had been there once 10 years ago, and enjoyed it enough to want to go again. It is a fascinating place. Coming from Arizona where many of the rivers dry up each year, it is always surprising to see a river that never runs out of water! It probably annoyed Suzanne, but I was fascinated by all the facts and figures on posters and brochures everywhere.
Here are some of the numbers...
  • The Niagara River is about 36 miles in length and is the natural outlet from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.
  • The elevation between the two lakes is about 326 ft. half occurring at the Falls themselves.
  • The deepest section in the Niagara River is just below the Falls, 170 feet.
  • About 500 other waterfalls in the world are "taller" than Niagara. The Angel Falls in Venezuela is tallest at 3,212 ft. However, some of the tallest falls in the world have very little water flowing over them.
  • It’s the combination of height and volume that makes Niagara Falls so beautiful.
  • More than 6 million cubic ft. of water go over the crestline of the Falls every minute during peak daytime tourist hours.
  • The Niagara River is a connecting channel between two Great Lakes, Erie and Ontario.
  • Niagara Falls has moved back seven miles in 12,500 years and may be the fastest moving waterfalls in the world.
  • The brown foam below Niagara Falls is a natural result of tons of water plummeting into the depths below. It is not dangerous. The brown colour is clay, which contains suspended particles of decayed vegetative matter. How was the Whirlpool created?
  • The startling green color of the Niagara River is a visible tribute to the erosive power of water. An estimated 60 tons of dissolved minerals are swept over Niagara Falls every minute. The color comes from the dissolved salts and "rock flour," very finely ground rock, picked up primarily from the limestone bed but probably also from the shales and sandstones under the limestone cap at the falls.
  • The flow levels have been regulated by the International Joint Commission (USA and Canada) since 1910.
  • A treaty between United States and Canada requires that during the daylight hours of the tourist season, the flow over Niagara Falls must not be less than 100,000 cubic ft. per second. At all other times, the flow must not be less than 50,000 cfs.
  • The falls will continue to erode, however, the rate has been greatly reduced due to flow control and diversion for hydro-power generation.
  • Recession for at least the last 560 years has been estimated at 1 to 1.5 metres per year.
  • Its current rate of erosion is estimated at 1 foot per year and could possibly be reduced to 1 foot per 10 years.
  • No one knows when the next major rock fall will occur in the Horseshoe Falls; the effect could be to speed up erosion.
  • It's also possible that the current or future flow and volume of the river will not be sufficient to carve out a deep enough plunge pool to accommodate rock falls; in this case, the Canadian Falls could be supported by talus in much the same way as the American Falls.
  • All things considered, scientists speculate that perhaps 2,000 years from now the American Falls could dry up. It is a stationary feature collapsing by rock falls and landslides, carrying less than seven percent of flow before diversion; this bit of water is shallow and spread out, therefore ineffective as a major erosive power.
  • The Horseshoe Falls will notch back for about 15,000 years, traveling back about four miles to a softer riverbed.
  • The falls could be replaced by a series of rapids.
  • 50,000 years from now, at the present rate of erosion, the remaining 20 miles to Lake Erie will have been undermined. There won’t be a falls anymore, but there will still be a river at work.
We bought a ticket package that gave us access to everything Niagara. There were 5 or 6 attractions to enjoy and we intended to do every one of them. We figured some would be fantastic, and some would be 'throw away' type events to flush out the package deal. We wandered around the top of the falls, went behind the falls, went on the boat the the base of the falls, went to the movies, the stores, the restaurants. We stayed clear into the evening when the dramatic and colorful lights come on over the falls. We were really enjoying ourselves and loving the photos we were getting.

One of the attractions that surprised me (thinking it was an add-on minimal attraction) was the river board walk along the rapids. I reviewed my pictures and videos and none captured the sound the the fury of the water. After the falls, the water flows into a narrow and shallow (comparatively) gorge and the water is SO powerful. I would think if your shoelace got into the flow of water, it would suck you right in.  There is a board walk along the edge (safely off the water, but close enough to feel and hear the power. We walked all along it and enjoyed the sights and sounds. 

One little problem I was having is that I've been dealing with a painful tendon issue and right before our trip, my doctor slapped a boot on the foot to try to get it to heal up. Walking straight and even was ok, but stairs and slopes and uneven walking terrain was pretty tricky. Luckily  (well, not luckily) Suzanne was having a painful knee situation, so we were both walking around at a slow pace. (I only say luckily because I would have felt bad slowing her down). 

 We celebrated my birthday with a beautiful dinner and dessert looking out over the falls. A great birthday treat!
 View from the restaurant:

east verde river

While we were camping, we drove up the road to the East Verde River. We actually just went camping and hiking on a description that Suzanne had given us from a fun weekend getaway she had recently had up there. When we posted the pictures, several people said - Wow, so pretty. where is that? So a quick Google search told me that we hiked and splashed in the East Verde River -- Highway 87, turn east on Houston Mesa Road and then drive out about 8 miles. There were 3 different parking lots over a couple of miles. We just drove out and hiked around until we were away from the crowds. (There weren't really many people around, but we hiked out until we were alone).
The water was chilly, and I had a slight tendon injury that I was supposed to be icing so it felt great to have my foot just soaking in the chilled water. The rest of the gang got in the water and were a bit more adventurous. Even though I have visiting many beautiful places in our state, it still surprises me to find a beautiful water oasis in middle of Arizona.  

camping in payson

We had been trying to find something we could do all together this summer. Everyone has crazy work schedules and couldn't find a time to leave for a week and vacation. So our plan became a real simple camping trip in Payson, less than 2 hours away. We reserved a spot in a campground from Thursday morning through the weekend, and off we went. As it ended up, no one but Dave and I actually had all 4 days free, so everyone was coming and going to suit their schedules. Lauri came up for a couple of days too. It was fun to have her be able to get away with us.
As we were putting up our camp the first day, we were all joking because we all know Lauri does not like to camp - never has. Actually, I don't think she minds the camping part, just doesn't like the not being able to get cleaned up every day part. I think she's game for a day or two, but I doubt she'd ever commit to a week or 10 day camping trip. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I'd enjoy camping that long either. I think 4 or 5 days of tent camping would be plenty for me. A cabin in the woods on the other hand?  I think I could enjoy that!
Anyway, we found a campground that it literally right in Payson city limits. It's across the street from Home Depot and a few hundred yards out into the forest. We chose it because of everyone's coming and going schedule, but also because we didn't need a totally wilderness experience, just a get-out-of-the-city for a few days experience. We wanted to keep it simple. 
We enjoyed teasing Lauri in her camping experience and her prep and packing. We found she brought this flashlight with her, although after laughing at her about it, we realized it was far superior to our big flashlights. 
We also had to laugh at her white purse she packed to the campground, sitting next to all the other camping duffel bags. 
We posted some info onto Facebook and had comments from Katie: "This is a side of my mom I have never, ever, ever, EVER seen. Not once. Thanks for documenting this, otherwise I wouldn't have believed it. Still not 100% certain that this is wasn't just staged."  
To which Lauri replied "I think I was invited for entertainment purposes. I better not be on a raft in the water in the morning . . . (think 'Parent Trap')"

Although the photo I have here is of Lauri cooking, Dave is the one who loves cooking in the outdoors. He makes some great steaks and grilled potatoes, and of course pancakes for breakfast!
Other activities going on around here are the smelling of the Pine Trees. Apparently, trees have a distinctive Vanilla or Chocolate smell. Melanie tried to convince everyone this was so, but I'm not sure she ended up with many believers.

We celebrated Jonny's birthday while camping, played cards, played guitar, went for walks around the camp, and went hiking around the creek nearby the next day. It's fun being parents of adult kids, and I love that they enjoy spending time together.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

overheard on a cruise

"You drive across the country so much.  You're like a pinball."

"Jordan, that expression surprised me. I've never seen you without that smile on your face."
"I've never had a bug that big in my brassiere before."

"It's OK Dave. There's a white guy in every group."

Madeline: "This isn't like taking a trip with Suzanne. We are more of a PG-13 group."

"I'm not saying there is an issue with priorities, but the library is open an hour a day and the casino is open  24 hours."

To Dave, referring to an inexpensive watch he was wearing, and trying to get him to buy a new one: "Dave you're wearing a friendship bracelet."

Remembering when Roxanne visited the Wagner's years ago and was served Lamb Chops for dinner. 
Roxanne: "What is this?"  
Madeline: "Well, it's like Pork Chops"
Grant: "No it's not, Rox-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-n-e" (bleating her name like a sheep)

Eating a cheeseburger after 2 tacos. "Cruise calories don't count."

I opted out of a zip line activity and chose to take pictures of everyone from below. "Did you see all the Iguanas?" "No, what Iguanas?"  "From up on the towers, we could see them everywhere, all over the rocks"   "Wait, what rocks, like right where I was standing????"  "Yes, there were probably 40 or 50 of them!"   (So so glad I didn't somehow see them!)

Talking about chaperoning an upcoming high school group going on a cruise.
Cynthia: "You don't have to worry about your daughter though."
Madeline: "No. But I also reminded her she could be tried as an adult in many countries!"

Ebola scare around the country this month. A group in the cruise ship library was playing a board game called 'Pandemic'.

"If we ever get lost in the Sahara, we'll stay near Madeline.  We may not have water, but she can always find a cold coke."

"You're looking for a taxi? Where do you want to go?"
"To get TACOS!!"

"Where's Madeline? She's missing again. She's like a shopping Ninja."

From a complete stranger:  "Why didn't you tell us he was about to propose, so we could be ready?"

Board game question - "Name 5 astronauts"  "Does Buzz LIghtyear count? He's got a space suit."

Board game question - "Name 2 human bones."  "Femur and Tibia"   "I thought you would say something more humerus!"

Board game question - "Name five 2-word US state capitals."  "Los Angeles."  "No"  "Yes it is! LOS-ANGELES, two words!"   "Nope, one word. Sacramento!"

Jordan to Dave, rushing for an elevator: "Patience is a virtue - Be Virtuous!" 
Complete stranger:  "No virtue here, I don't have it in me."

"I try to work up my heart rate, but usually I just realize it's heartburn."

Story evolving in the coming years: "Remember that International Golf Tournament of 2014 that I narrowly won by one stroke?" (Mini golf on the cruise ship)

In elevator, 5 year old still singing from pool party and pushing all the elevator buttons. Older man, after the little boy gets out: "I'm so glad my kids are grown and gone!"

First day off the ship: "I don't know if I'm going to survive without a nap. And no ice cream bar in the afternoon either."

On the drive home from Galveston after the cruise:
Joe: "You should have looked, you missed the 4 deer on the side of the road"
Madeline: "More importantly, YOU missed the 4 deer on the side of the road!"

At home after the cruise, Madeline and Jordan are recovering from bad sunburns.  "I have a new theme song for the end portion of the cruise - I Can't Stop this Peeling Anymore."

"Joe says I'm molting like a snake"

After we got off the cruise ship at the port in Galveston, we had originally planned to stay there for a couple extra days. Six of us were sharing one vehicle, and 2 people needed to go back to Houston unexpectedly. I wanted to see a film in a local theater regarding the storm that wiped out Galveston 100 years ago (Isaac's Storm - a great book!).  Anyway, I thought it was a big IMAX movie in downtown Galveston and it only played until 5:00.  We decided to all drive to Houston to drop off 2 people, then come back. We ran into awful traffic, farther than we planned, the afternoon was running out, we needed to stop for lunch. We also realized the hotel we had for that evening wasn't even in Galveston, but 20 or so miles down the road. They were all really trying to accommodate me to see the film I wanted to see. We followed the GPS directions and finally ended up back in Galveston in front of the little movie theater. It was literally 50 yards from the cruise ship that we just got off that morning. Seriously, right next to the ship. AND it was a nothing little film - 20 minutes long!  We all felt so stupid. We could have got off the ship, humored me and my little movie I wanted to see, and 20 minutes later been on with our day!