Wednesday, January 25, 2017


We took a trip to Idaho earlier this month. Dave's father passed away on January 2nd. He was the wonderful age of 94!  He has led a great life. He lived in the same area of Idaho his entire life, and lived in the house he built with Betty as a young married couple until he was 90. The last years of his life he lived with Dave's older brother Brent and sister in law Vee as he began to need assistance and progressively needed more over the next four years. What a loving service they did for Delos when they took him into their home. He was a widower for the last 12 years of his life and often talked of longing to be with Betty and wondered why he was left behind for so long. I imagine it was a glorious reunion.  

So off we went to Idaho. The weather in the northwest states was not within normal range of weather patterns. It was CRAZY cold!  The weather reports were kind of scary with warnings of lots of snow and that many roads around Idaho have been and might be closed. We checked our antifreeze, checked the treads on our tires, we made Melanie go out and buy snow chains for her tires for her drive up from Utah. We watched the news and the reports made me nervous. As it ended up, there was definitely a lot of snow, and it was plenty cold but the roads were completely clear the whole way up. Yay. Rachel, Kyle and Roxanne flew up from Phoenix to Salt Lake City and Melanie (who lives in Utah now) picked them up and they came up together. Dave and I drove up earlier in the week. 

We got up to our Idaho house, arriving after dark. I was worried we'd have to shovel our way to the door of the house, but the neighbor knew we were coming and kindly shoveled a path for us. Dave immediately got a fire going and started warming up the rooms. It didn't take long until it was toasty and comfortable. We had the fire going day and night for our entire visit. So comfy and warm. 

Although we were in Idaho for a funeral, we also are remodeling and updating the house, so we planned a few projects. We wanted to get the living room in order. The last time Dave was there, he textured and painted the walls in the living room and kitchen. All the furniture and belongings in each room were piled high in the middle and in disarray. We sorted, cleaned, vacuumed and rearranged and got the public rooms of the house back in order. We were also in the middle of upgrading the main bathroom. We hired a local craftsman to put down some flooring. We spent part of a day shopping for flooring, and making decisions about projects for the future (flooring for the rest of the house). Speaking of flooring. . . there had been carpet in that bathroom for years. CARPET. IN A BATHROOM. I can't tell you how happy I was to see that go. It never smelled quite right. That was the first and most urgent project when we bought the house. All the extended family that stopped by and happened to notice said "Hallelujah -- that carpet is gone!" I have no idea how long it was there. I suppose it was a 'thing' at one time, that indoor/outdoor carpet. But in all the years I have been visiting that home, I never once went in there barefooted. The bathtub was in great shape, the cabinetry needed fresh paint, but otherwise was in great shape, the 1960's wallpaper had to go, but overall the bathroom was ok, except for that carpet!! 

House projects done, then preparing for the funeral. Brent and Vee headed up the planning and implementing of the arrangements. They made an outline of the funeral years ago when Delos was able to help with that. They were so kind to take care of all the details. Delos and Betty had pre-purchased their funeral and burial plan, so that was taken care of. Brent and Vee had put together a video of photos and video and audio of Delos and Betty to have running in the foyer during the funeral and luncheon. What a gift, and what a labor of love scanning in all those photos. Brent has been working on scanning in photos and journals for years. What a gift to the family! We decided to add some framed photos to the display also. So I got some favorites framed and ready. I also wanted to put together a notebook of samplings of his journals. I scanned through and read hundreds of pages of Delos's journals from his mission in the 1940's. Delos was a journal writer from the time he was 16 until in his 90s when he could no longer keep up that task. He wrote daily. Literally every single day during those years. He wrote in the margin of each entry what time he woke up and what time he went to bed that night and then overviewed his day. He often talked about what he ate, especially his breakfasts and any treats or desserts he had enjoyed. There was page after page of mundane, then all of a sudden -- a gem! There would suddenly be something insightful, thoughtful, spiritual, or just plain sweet. Anyway, I printed off 30 or so pages of these 'gems' I found and we enjoyed reading snippets to the kids as we were preparing the booklet. 

We also realized that Grandpa kept reading glasses EVERYWHERE! His distance eyesight was amazingly good even as a 90 year old. But he had reading glasses. He was proud of the fact that he'd get a quote for glasses from an optometrist for $100, but he'd find them through a mail order company or at a drugstore for 3/$10 (just magnified reading glasses, not prescriptions).  We collected all we could find around the house along with the many many glass cases and displayed them in a basket in the living room.  

The funeral was a good as we could have ever expected. It was well attended and it was sweet. Eric, Dave and Gordon all spoke about different aspects of his life (family/farming, missions, scouting) and they all did such an amazing job. The grandkids and great-grandkids sang a hymn together. Rachel and Aaron took care of the congregational music. The Bishop was so good and so sweet to the whole family. The Relief Society took care of such a good meal for the family afterwards. 

After the service at the church building, we all went out to the cemetery. It was absolutely beautiful in the pictures, but man-oh-man was it cold and icy! Fingers and toes were aching, people were slipping and sliding, toddlers were crying. I'm glad it didn't last too long. The the cold and the snow sure made things look pretty, though. There were military honors, Brent received the American flag, Aaron played the bagpipe, the grandsons were the pall bearers. Delos was laid to rest next to Betty and near their 4 children who died in infancy. Before we walked to our cars, Dave and his nephew Dave led the group spontaneously in singing Delos's signature song "I'm My Own Grandpa". 

After the luncheon, a few people came over to the house to visit. So many of Dave's cousins and nephews and nieces have such fond memories of the house and yard from their childhood. Everyone needed to walk around the property and share stories. Many had to go up in the 'carpet fort' that Eric built when he was young. Everyone commented "It was a lot bigger when we were kids!" 

Overall, it was such a good day/week to remember and honor Delos and spend time with friends and family.  Delos was a good, good man. 

Pictures:  The beautiful, freezing cold yard, and Dave out in it -- without a coat -- getting firewood. I couldn't even run out to the car without bundling up. It was painfully cold just being outside for a minute or two!


Grandpa's collection of glasses.

Jason visiting Eric's "Carpet Fort"

Display of photos and journals and plaques at the funeral. 

Graveside services and military honors.



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I meant to hike, instead I just went for a stroll

I had good intentions to get up and go on a long invigorating hike yesterday. But there was business paperwork yelling at me from my desk and I stopped to get a head start on that, then phone calls, then e-mails, then well, the day just started. It was overcast all day which is wonderful for hiking. About 2:00 I put on my shoes, filled my water pack, made a grocery list to pick up some items on the way home, then headed out the door. By the time I got to my car, it was sprinkling. I was going to head out anyway, I had a waterproof jacket and hat and sprinkling wasn't going to stop me, I just planned a trail route that wouldn't put me too far from my car in case it started raining in earnest. By the time I had driven 2 blocks, it was raining in earnest! Dang it! So I ran all my errands instead, watching to see if it would let up. Finally about 4:30, it ended and I hopped on a short trail. The desert is beautiful during and after a rain. When things green up in the hills around here, it looks and smells so good. The sky was clearing up, as well as nearing sunset so it was gorgeous. I just strolled on an easy trail for about 40 minutes and headed back to my car before dark. I love having so many hiking trail options within a 10 minute drive from my house. I love the Phoenix Mountain Preserve areas.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hotshots Memorial State Park

Suzanne planned a day for us and as usual, I just joined in after she did all the planning and work. I love that about her, she likes to plan and I like to show up. So Suzanne, Penny and I took off early on Wednesday morning, December 28th.

Suzanne planned a hike in a newest State Park in Arizona which just opened earlier in December --The Granite Mountains Hotshot Memorial State Park. The park is up near Yarnell and it doesn't resemble a 'park' in any sense. It is a small parking lot dug out of the mountain beside the edge of Highway 89 with some informational kiosks, a port-a-potty, and a trail that starts right up the mountain. The mountain looks a bit daunting at first, but we found the trail had been designed with wide switchbacks that made the hike do-able. It was moderately hard not because it was overly strenuous, but because it was all uphill to the look-out site. Sometimes it's hard to judge a hike by a written description so we weren't sure if it would be in our range of ability and fitness. But it was enjoyable.

The hike is 2.85 miles out to the lookout with a 1200 foot elevation gain, then an additional .75 miles down to the actual memorial site where the firefighters passed away. We got to the lookout, but some other hikers told us the trail down that last section was especially muddy and slippery, so we enjoyed the lookout site and took some time to enjoy the view, read the signs and eat our lunch.

Here's what was heartwarming about the hike. The trail leads to the site where 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire in June 2013, and the trail honors the fallen men. Granite plaques honoring each one are placed every 600 feet along the trail. The plaques show a picture and a written biography of each of the firefighters. The emotion of seeing and reading these memorial plaques along the way made this a very different hike, much different than a simple walk in the hills.

Suzanne had an especially emotional reaction when the tragedy happened. There's a comment on her facebook page. A friend of her's: "That day was so sad . . . still is."  Suzanne: "Agreed. We went to the Fourth of July parade in Prescott less than a week after it happened. They had 19 riderless horses go through with boots backwards in the stirrups and the names of each on the horse. Everyone stood in silence in tribute. It still chokes me up every time I even think about it."

The area is pretty, the views were spectacular, there was a bit of snow lingering near the top and the weather was perfect. We were plenty warm just wearing a flannel shirt.

We very much enjoyed our day, tired and a bit sore for the evening, but so glad we went. We drove from Yarnell to Prescott for dinner then back home to the valley.

We could keep track of our progress by tracking the names on the plaques as we hiked. 
They were mounted along the trail in order of rank.

A few of the granite plaques along the hiking trail.

It was a nice clean trail most of the way, but got a bit snowy and muddy near the top.

It was a little eerie to walk by burned out trees and shrubbery 3 1/2 years after the fire.

This was the actual site where the hotshots passed away, as seen from the viewing site. It's a 3/4 mile hike down. At the time of the tragedy, a group of firefighters had already created a memorial on the site. When the state bought the land, there were 19 iron crosses on the ground marking where each man's body was found. The design committee decided to leave them there and design a rough circle of gabion baskets and chain to surround the crosses.

Note: No matter what we do, Penny always looks cool, calm and collected. Suzanne and I look like we've been hiking. Penny's hair is perfectly in place and lipstick still on.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

December 2016

Well this sad little blog needs some attention. I haven't written a thing for a year. I have enjoyed making the blog entries into a hard cover book at the year's end in the past, like a family yearbook. So I'm going to start up again. It's early in January, but instead of starting with today, I'm going to jump back and re-cap part of our December. It was a fun month.
Chronologically, here we go.
Dave built another float and was in the Electric Light parade. According to my calculations, he has been in this parade 10 years now.

My brother Curtis got married. Curtis and Laura are a great match and the wedding was unconventional and fun. Curtis sang to Laura as she entered the venue-- very sweet --  and Dave performed the ceremony (his first as a newly ordained Bishop).

Our annual Bookclub Christmas party was (and always is) so fun. Suzanne hosted at her house this year. We had a cozy sit down dinner and a fun gift exchange. We all bring 3 book related items or gifts inspired by something we read this year, then draw names and exchange the gifts.  These were my awesome gifts I came home with. My initial, cut out of a hard cover book!

The photo doesn't do these gifts justice. The pages were removed from this book, a zipper added, and it opens up to a silk lined bag/container. Awesome!

These were made by my friends (members of bookclub)! I always like bookclub. I look forward to it every month.

We made a short visit to New Orleans. I'll make a separate post about that trip.

Dave took the youth Christmas caroling on his parade float. It is an annual traditional now.

Roxanne and Jonny were going to spend Christmas with Jonny's family in California, and Melanie is moving away shortly after Christmas, so we decided to have a faux Christmas Eve a week early. We ate in the living room by candlelight next to the Christmas tree, exchanged presents, enjoyed a pleasant evening. I love family holidays! Brady wasn't with us this year, he was terribly missed.

The next week, the real Christmas Eve, we decided to go out to eat. We went to "A Different Pointe of View" up at the Pointe Resort. It was beautiful. We had reservations at 5:30 so we were able to see the sun go down and the city lights come on. The food was good, the service was good. Suzanne was the one who suggested that restaurant, and without talking to each other, we both made reservations there at the same time. Us with our family, and her with friends.

After dinner, we drove through the Moon Valley area looking at amazing Christmas light displays in the residential neighborhoods there.

Christmas morning was wonderful. Christmas fell on Sunday this year. We decided to relax and sleep in a bit today. We got up and went to church at 9, our ward choir did most of the program, and it was very sweet. It was nice to spend the morning with our ward family. The kids spent the night here and went to church with us.
After church ended, we came home and enjoyed a day together eating tamales, opening presents, cooking together, playing games and eating all day. Melanie has a new boyfriend who spent part of the day with us too. 

Overall, another wonderful Christmas season. 

On the 28th, Suzanne and Penny and I planned a hike up near Yarnell, I'll write a separate post for that, then on New Year's Eve, we (our YW Presidency) talked the YM presidency into taking on the food service at the New Years eve dance for the youth this year, and we took the night off. In our defense, we did plan, purchase and prep all the food, then handed it over to them to actually attend. Then Dave and I put on our jammies, put in a movie and relaxed all evening. Melanie was not impressed that we planned and looked forward to just that. She was off partying all night. She and Chris had 3 events they were going to pop in to. 

So that's our December 2016. It was a good year overall and we are looking forward to 2017.