Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pre-Christmas Trip to See Family

We drove to Mesa, Arizona to visit two of our families there and attend the special school events of our grandchildren that were occurring.  The oldest granddaughter in these two families graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Elementary Education and her state certificate to teach in grades K to 8th.  We were sure proud of her.  We also got to witness and enjoy her sister's Jr. High School orchestra performance and later her piano recital, which were both outstanding and very enjoyable.  After that, we got to attend Chuck's son's family's school orchestra performance.  That was also fantastic.  There were 108 children playing violin all together, in tune, and with enthusiasm.  What a treat!  What a joy it is to see our families progressing and enjoying life.

We returned home to Utah so that I could attend the dress rehearsal for a choral concert in which I was singing as a member of the Ivins Stake Choir, "Savior of the World".  We performed it on Dec. 19 and again on the 23rd.  Our director was an accomplished vocalist who not only directed us, but also performed the part of Joseph, in the Nativity Play that featured other fine vocalists playing other key roles in the events leading up to Jesus Christ's birth in Judea.  I thoroughly enjoyed singing in it because for a change, I wasn't doing the accompanying on the piano.  Instead, we sang with recorded orchestral music from our church's website shared freely with local units.  Our director had the knowledge to operate all the electronic sound system to produce high quality background accompaniment.  I thought it sounded great!  The soloists did an excellent job, not only in singing their parts, but in portraying the characters; Joseph, Mary, Zacharias, Elizabeth, the Angel Gabriel, and supporting characters who interacted with them.

This Christmas season, we tried to focus on the Savior and less on gifts.  However, I did complete a project which I gave as a personal gift to my children from me - - my life history and that of four generations of my female progenitors.  I typed it, ran copies of it, and put them in sheet protectors in three-ring binders.  I barely got them in the mail on time to arrive before Christmas.  It was quite a project to complete during our trip to Arizona.  My husband also wrote, printed, and mailed out about forty Christmas letters telling of our activities for this past year along with our love and best wishes to all.  These letters are intended for those we seldom see, who live at a distance from us.  We treasure our friends and extended family, most of whom live far away now.  He did a great job.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Getting Prepared" Project

During the week prior to Thanksgiving and following Thanksgiving, I felt impressed to update our preparedness supplies after hearing what Glenn Beck on the Fox News program had to say.  He predicted significant price rises on food and other commodities in the coming months and urged us to get prepared for this by laying by food storage and getting out of debt.  We're OK on debt, but we needed to replace some food items in our existing supply.  So guess what!  I bought all the great meat specials I saw that we could use and pressure canned them in pint bottles.  I did up some beef, turkey, chicken, ham, and white beans with ham.  I also did beef stew and turkey ala king.  Now we can make up main courses using up our staples like rice, pasta, and potato flakes combined with the meats I put up.  Now, if I can just learn how to use my cast iron dutch oven properly and be able to cook without gas or electricity, I will feel well prepared to do meals in an emergency or shortage situation.  I went to the local preparedness market and looked at a sun oven and hand wheat grinder.  I need a hand wheat grinder now in order to make cracked wheat.  My electric mill only does fine flour, not cereal, and we like hot cereal.  The sun oven looked really good because we have lots of sunny days down here in Southern Utah, but it cost over $200.  I can buy lots of charcoal briquettes with that.  This may sound a little "over the top" to many of you, but it was actually fun for me, and I feel more secure doing all I reasonably can to be prepared for hard times ahead.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Reflections

Today was a quiet Thanksgiving Day for me.  I didn't have a dinner to prepare or company to host.  Instead, Chuck, David, and I went to our neighbor's home for the feast.  These are the same people who went with us to the Death Valley Roundup a couple of weeks ago.  They are very good friends--Hal and Dee Jones.   Dee is my Visiting Teaching companion, and we have enjoyed this calling in our church to tend to the needs of and visit and share Gospel centered messages with three women assigned to us.  One of the single women we visit was also invited to come to the Thanksgiving feast today.  She came and we all enjoyed it.  David enjoyed the meal and promptly fell asleep afterward.  Dee's granddaughter and her friend came down from BYU to visit during their break also.  I made three pumpkin pies for it.  We had turkey, potatoes, gravy, stuffing, bean casserole, fruit salad, rolls, and appetizers.

Right now in this stage of our life, we find ourselves more and more on the outside looking in during holidays as our children and their children gather for their own holiday observances as families.  This is partly due to the great distances involved during the difficult and frequently hazardous driving conditions at this time of the year, and part is due to each family's need to have their own time and space to enjoy.  We understand this, and now look back upon those times we have enjoyed being part of these gatherings with deep nostalgia.  It goes without saying that we need to always be mindful of the blessings we enjoy and sometimes take for granted as we go thru life.  Those moments often pass, never to return, without our even realizing it.  We are deeply thankful for the many years we enjoyed Thanksgiving and Christmas with family.  We have been blessed with wonderful memories and a heritage of family values which are now being passed on to our descendents.

49er Roundup at Death Valley

Add caption
Our trailer is the tiny one in the middle.  Our Minivan pulls it just fine. It has all we need.

Old Western Costume Contest
A pampered pet

Country Western Singers, the Kuddabin BrothersAdd caption
We took our trailer out on its second voyage.   The Honda Mini Van was our towing vehicle.   This time we went with friends, Dee and Hal Jones to Death Valley, California to participate in the annual gathering of RVers to observe the country western traditions of days gone by and enjoy the performances of western country performing groups, art festival, and other activities.  We had a lot of fun.  The Furnace Creek Sunset campground was the site where we camped.  The weather was pleasant, although windy at times, and we enjoyed being with our friends sharing the events.  I enjoyed the "Pampered Pet Parade".  Most of the old people we saw had small dogs in their motor homes and trailers; hence the opportunity for participation in this event.  I enjoyed seeing the little dogs all dressed up for the parade.  Our little camping trailer was dwarfed next to the gigantic motor homes most of the people had, but we did just fine in this self-contained setting with no hookups for five nights and six days.  We will plan to return next year.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Maiden Voyage of New Camper

We recently bought a small used travel trailer so we could do some sightseeing and camping together; so we took it out for the first time to visit DUP (Daughters of the Utah Pioneers) museums in small Southern Utah Towns near where we live in St. George.  Here I am in front of the Panguitch City DUP Museum.  Built in the 1890's, it contained an amazing collection of pioneer artifacts collected from this area; such as, old tools, kitchen utensils, clothing, furniture, photos, and written histories.  The building itself is a historic Bishop's Storehouse of the Mormon Church in this area.  It stored donated commodities for distribution to local needs.

Our Ford pickup which is 17 years old now and in really good shape, did a good job of pulling the little trailer.  We enjoyed the conveniences of our little house on wheels with hot water, toilet, shower, kitchen, dinette, forced air heat, and air conditioning.  It has two beds in the main body and two fold out beds at each end.  We were snug as two bugs in a rug--even when the temperature was below freezing in the mountains at the Duck Creek campground near Cedar Breaks.  We are planning to do more camping this fall before the colorful leaves are gone from the trees.

 These pictures don't really do justice to the true colors of these rocks.  They were bright orangey-pink in color.  We traveled through the Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon, the towns of Tropic, Cannonville, and Henrieville on the way to Escalante where we camped in the Petrified Forest State Campground.  We enjoyed hiking a two mile trail to view the surrounding mesas and plateaus of the Grand Staircase area and to see the amazing petrified logs and pieces of wood produced over millions of years of geologic history.  This fascinates me.  I appreciate God's creations.

 This old storefront has been preserved in the town of Escalante and brings back images of the old west style architecture I have seen in old western movies so many times.

The DUP restored this old Mormon Church Tithing Office.  It is now a DUP museum.  It was closed; so we'll try to return another time to see inside.  It is constructed out of hand-made adobe bricks, a common building material in this area in the late 19th century.

This is a restored log cabin typical of the first pioneer dwellings constructed in this area.  I want to paint a picture of it sometime.
 While camped at the Petrified Forest Campground in Escalante, we took a drive way up into the mountains on a road named "Hell's Backbone".  It was aptly named with the winding hairpin curves and steep cliffs on a washboarded road.  The scariest part was a very narrow single-lane bridge connecting two narrow promintories which dropped off on both sides about 1200 feet.  I had to close my eyes to avoid a panic attack!

This is a good view from our hike near the campground in Escalante of the 11,000 foot Aquarius Plateau.  The distant cliffs on the plateau were brilliant pink in color.

We hope to return to this amazing scenery for further exploration.  What a great trip.  Fun, fun, fun!

On Site Painting of Navajo Lake

On our return trip from Escalante on our little trailer's maiden voyage, we stopped at this lovely lake near the Duck Creek campground where we stayed the previous night.   I had Chuck park the trailer on the road at the end of the long reservoir, called Navajo Lake.  While he waited in the cab of the truck listening to radio talk shows and napping, I sat in the trailer at the dinette table looking out the window which perfectly framed this lovely Fall scenery.  It took me about two hours to complete.  I am out of practice doing water color.  I have to really be inspired to work up enough energy and discipline to paint these days.  I guess I just need to plan on a regular time to do it and avoid letting things get in the way of that time.  I truly love to paint landscapes.  It releases tension and stress and is quite enjoyable, once I settle down and just do it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thankfulness for Medical Technology

On Oct. 4, my brother who is age 68 underwent multiple bypass heart surgery in a hospital in Christ Church, New Zealand.  It was successful and he is now recovering in the cardiac unit anticipating to return home next weekend.  He had five bypasses performed during this surgery.  It was his first heart procedure.    Angina pain alerted him to the problem and he promptly sought medical help for it.  To me this is a tremendous miracle of modern medical technology.   I am so thankful for the ability we have to extend life  and improve its quality through medical advances that have been made in recent years.

Campaigning for a Candidate

Today my husband and I went out into our neighborhood to campaign for a candidate who we hope will unseat the incumbent Democratic Senator in our congressional district.  He is young, energetic, courageous, and knowledgeable.  He is an attorney who has served in our state legislature.   He recently served as vice-chairman of the Republican Party.  He is a fiscal conservative and a constitutionalist.  I was impressed with him when he came and spoke to our local precinct meeting.  Our congressional district is very large geographically, extending from East Salt Lake City down south to Iron and Washington County where we live.  He took the time to visit with us in our little town of Ivins and convinced many of us that he would be honest and reliable in representing us in the US Congress.

We knocked on doors, talked to people and handed out brochures.  This is the first time we have become politically active in our lives.  We have become more and more disillusioned with the path our country has taken in our lifetimes, and are worried about our grandchildren's futures.  We feel it is time for a return to traditional conservative values and beliefs, especially those freedoms guaranteed by our constitution.  Unfortunately our candidate does not come from a well-known family with lots of private funding as is the case with the incumbent.   Nevertheless, we want to do our part to stand up for what we believe at this time.  Just for the record, his name is MORGAN PHILPOT.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October General Conference 2010

My husband and I traveled from Southern Utah to Provo and Highland to join two of our daughters and their husbands in a journey to Salt Lake City to attend Sunday afternoon session of General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  We had a wonderful time and had our spirits uplifted by the messages we received from our church leaders.   It was heart warming to be with our family members to enjoy sharing these events together.  The weather was bright, sunny, and clear; so when we drove over the hill behind the Draper Temple, we could see the entire Salt Lake Valley stretching as far as we could see in all directions with  the Great Salt Lake stretched into the horizon with the big city's skyline  in  front of the lake and mountains.  What a sight!  We were able to park conveniently and get into the huge conference center where thousands of church members congregated.  It was awesome to join with everyone singing the hymns of Zion together and to hear the Tabernacle Choir sing their chosen hymns. Each speaker presented a carefully considered talk on topics each considered important for people to hear at this time.  I took notes in my notebook so I could review the points that stood out to me later on.  One of our daughters used her Blackberry cell phone to take these pictures which she e-mailed to me.  We used our cell phones several times as we maneuvered from waiting line to our seats and guided our husbands from the parking garage to where we were seated.  What a convenience it was to have cell phones.  Of course, we turned them off before the meeting started.  Everyone reverently stood up as the Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson and his counselors entered the Hall and took their seats.  A hush fell over the crowd in anticipation for what was about to occur as the session began.  I felt well rewarded for coming.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Canning Pears

On the way home from Colorado this past weekend, we stayed in Grand Junction, CO overnight.  In the morning, we went to the nearby town of Pallisade where there a lot of fruit farms.  We found some wonderful pears and bought two boxes to take home and bottle.   Fortunately, the pears were a little green; so we were able to wait until Monday to put them up.  They were just perfect--nice and juicy and sweet.  Chuck cut them in half and cored them, and I peeled and packed them.  Then we processed them for 30 minutes in a boiling water bath on our Camp Chef out on the deck.  Everything worked beautifully, and before long, we had 23 1/2 quarts all done.   We listened to Mormon Tabernacle Choir music as we worked, and the time went quickly.  It was really kind of fun working together on this project.  Now we will be able to enjoy home canned pears this winter.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Return to Old Stove Prairie School

Newly Remodeled Stove Prairie School,  Bellevue Colorado
During our visit to Fort Collins, Colorado,  Chuck and I made it a priority to travel up into the mountains to once again see the rural school where I taught until I retired twelve years ago.  At that time it served K=6th Grades.  It now serves Pre-school - 5th Grades.  It is over one hundred years old now, having been established in 1898 by farmers and ranchers as a one-room school.   It is tucked away in a high, secluded valley (about 7,000 ft. elevation) northwest of town about twenty-one miles.  I used to teach combined grades Kindergarten, First, and Second for several years before I was forced to retire after a bout with cancer back in 1998.  I loved teaching there, especially the cooperative, helpful parents who often helped me out in the classroom.  Before I was assigned to a regular education classroom, I taught in this and other mountain schools as an itinerant special education teacher.  I traveled all over the mountains to provide educational services for special needs children in the elementary grades.  But my favorite assignment was this school--Stove Prairie Elementary.  Not only was it very scenic, but the children were mostly eager to learn, and were a lot of fun to teach.  During the winter when it snowed, sledding down the hill out back was great fun.  We also enjoyed seeing the elk in the fields next to the school when they came down from the high country during the fall and winter.  I enjoyed the scenic, forty-five minute drive up the winding canyon road, especially in the fall when the aspen were so colorful.  I even managed to maneuver my little front-wheel drive Diahatsu two-door car in deep snow with snow chains which I installed myself whenever needed.

During our visit, I was able to meet the new teachers and principal and see one teacher, Kathleen Edmiston, and the school secretary, Karen England, who remained from my time there.  They were happy to see me and renew acquaintances.  I have been corresponding each Christmas with Karen England in the intervening years; so it really didn't feel that twelve years had passed.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the whole school has been recently remodeled and improved.  It now has five classrooms and a new media center/library with separate rooms for special education tutoring and "special" instruction; i.e. math, music, art, p.e.  The playground has also been improved and is really nice for the children now.    I'm so glad we took the time to come here to visit and enjoy the pleasant memories of years gone by.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Colorado Old Home Weekend

After driving east through Utah from St. George and over the brilliant foliage covered mountains on I 70, we finally arrived in Fort Collins.  We were welcomed by our old friends, Donna and Bill from our old neighborhood where we enjoyed visiting in their home and eating a wonderful home-cooked meal together.  After catching up on the happenings going on in our lives, we went to the home of another pair of friends, Niel and Janette, to stay for the remainder of our stay in Fort Collins.  The next morning we attended an open house for our old ward (church) which we had not been in for eleven years, ever since we relocated to Utah.  The old Lynwood Chapel has been completely remodeled and the stake was hosting the open house not only to highlight the improvements in the building but to give people an opportunity to explore what the church has to offer those who attend.  It was fun,  informative, and well-attended.  We were amazed at the improvements made in the building's appearance and accessibility throughout.  Best of all we saw many of the old friends from years gone by--all looking older, but still pretty active and healthy.  The old feelings of fellowship and good will still remained after all these years.  It was heart warming to experience these feelings.  This was heightened later that evening when we attended a session of Stake Conference and saw even more of our church friends from years ago at the meeting.  I got all choked up as the meeting started when those feelings of love and familiarity continued on into the evening.  I thought to myself,  "I wonder if this is the kind of joy we will experience when we pass to the other side and see all our old friends and family again."  I think so.  I hope so, because it is a truly marvelous and satisfying feeling to have.

We drove around the town to see some of the changes that have occurred.  It has grown much larger, but all the old landmarks and neighborhoods we knew so well have remained.  Our old house was a different color, but it and the neighborhood looked much the same.  The Colorado State University campus has grown a lot.

Tomorrow we plan to attend another session of conference and go to the rededication ceremonies for the remodeled chapel.  The next three days we plan to visit more friends in nearby towns and drive up to see Stove Prairie School  in the mountains where I used to teach elementary school.  I'll try to take some pictures and get them posted to this blog as soon as I can.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Getting better

Well, now I know what it is like to get a bad cold and sore throat after being free of this for several years!  Two weeks ago I started symptoms like allergies usually give me; runny nose, sneezing.  Then after a few days it suddenly turned into a bad sore throat and fever.  The sore throat grew increasingly worse, and I was choking during the night.  It was scary.  I went to the doctor who gave antibiotics for one week.   I stayed down for a whole week, and it gradually grew better.  However, I have little energy.  I so often forget what being sick is like and take good health for granted.   I am looking forward to going on a trip to Colorado now.  Hooray!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My New Humanitarian Project

On these hot summer days it gets up to around 107 degrees in the afternoons.  I don't much like to go outdoors during the heat of the day, so I just stay in the house with the air conditioner.  Instead of just watching TV most of the time, I decided to find something that wasn't too difficult to make and that might be of benefit to someone else and might make a difference in their lives.  When I went to a monthly meeting of our LDS Women's group, lo and behold, they were starting an ongoing project for our local humanitarian center which we could work on in our homes.  It was to make little girl's dresses for local distribution by our local Bishops around Christmas time.  We were taught how to make them that night, and they proved to be relatively simple to do with a sewing machine and a little bit of fabric and knit T shirt tops.  This proved to be just the thing for the project I was seeking.

Using a measurement chart corresponding to the proper size of T shirt, I just cut off the shirt to the proper length and attach a width of matching or contrasting fabric cut to the length on the chart.  I then sewed one seam in the skirt back, gathered the top, attached it to the shirt at the waist, zig-zagged the seam, hemmed it up, and it was finished!  I used the left over fabric from the cut off T shirt for pockets, bows, etc.  I was happy to find cute little girl's knit shirts on sale at Walmart for only $2 each in sizes 4 to 12.   I got the fabric there too for about $1.50 per skirt (about 1/2 yard of 45" wide fabric).   I thought it was pretty neat and fun to do!   The long, hot afternoons, passed by quickly, and I felt pretty good about how I spent my time.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Free Peaches

Today my husband and I went to our church owned peach orchard to pick peaches because they are being offered for free.  Apparently, it was a bumper crop this year, and they couldn't process any more through our local cannery.  There are millions of peaches just hanging on the trees.  Some are a little too ripe now, but there are many more that are ready for canning.  There were hundreds of families out picking this morning on Labor Day.  We came home with five bushels.  Now I must get busy and bottle them before they spoil.  I will take some to friends and neighbors first.  Thank goodness I have plenty of canning jars because when I went to buy more lids at WalMart, they didn't have any more quart jars in the two stores I tried.  They did have quart lids, however, but the wide mouth lids were all sold out in the first store.  This goes to show that it is important to keep a good supply of canning lids and supplies on hand to use in case of emergency; i.e., a  power shortage necessitating processing of meats in the freezer or a sudden surplus of food to be stored.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Chinese Motor Scooter Dilemma

Have you ever purchased a Chinese manufactured motor scooter?  If not, consider yourself lucky.  I bought one for my son four months ago hoping that it would provide reliable, inexpensive transportation for him around town.  He is partially handicapped and needed a three-wheel scooter that he could operate with only his hands.  It was ideal for him--that is for about one month when the electrical system connectors disintegrated causing the spark plugs to come loose and started a fire.  After that was fixed, the rivets holding the exhaust system together fell out and the plastic tailpipe broke.  The chain is about to fall apart now.  It is a really pretty scooter and looks nice on the outside, but the insides are cheaply made.  It is really just a piece of junk.  Now I will probably have to scrap it and pay three times the amount on a quality scooter from a reputable manufacturer like Honda or Suzuki, which I should have done in the first place.  I guess we live and learn don't we?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

2010 Daughter of the Utah Pioneers

On July 24 I rode on a float in the Ivins City Pioneer Day Parade.  This was rather important to me in that I designed the float upon request of the local Anasazzi camp.  There were six daughters of the Utah Pioneers with me on the float.  Each person enacted a pioneer chore using artifacts and implements of the pioneer era.  In addition, we all sang the theme song of the DUP and played rhythm instruments.  I accompanied on the accordion.   People clapped and cheered for us as we drove by because they could hear it clearly as it was amplified.  It was a lot of fun.