Sunday, August 30, 2015


A couple of weeks ago Keith, the kids and I took a trip back to my parent's place for a family reunion. Alex, my youngest sibling, had returned from his mission and school would start soon so it was the first time in a while that we could be all together.

While we were there our good friends Ian and Cheryl, now retired, were staying in their 5th-wheel in our backyard for the summer. They live part of the year in California and part in Washington (with a bit of road-trippin' in between). They they have become, by far, the closest neighbors we have ever had! Cheryl took a lot of photos while we were there, mostly of the kids, but also of our home. I was beginning to sort out pics for a post on our trip when I realized that I kept on getting caught up in the memories and emotions that these pictures brought back. This is the only home I had ever known. We moved in shortly before I was born and I never moved until I left for collage.

At first I hesitated to make a blog post about home just because it could get so long. There is so very much in each picture that I could talk about! (I will try very hard to not give too much narrative.) And how could I possibly choose which pictures to include and which to cut! I also worried about sounding like I was bragging. In the end I decided that this place and the memories I made here meant too much to me to not share it. Even if it is just for my own sake.

Our elementary school bus stop was at the end of the long gravel driveway. You can't see the end from the house, but we had a very protective black boarder collie named Hector who would take us to catch the bus each morning. He would walk with us to the end of the driveway, wait with us for the bus and then as soon as the bus door closed he would turn around and go back up to the house. Mom would be watching for him to come back and when he did she would know that we were safely on the bus. Some how he always knew when the bus would be coming back at the end of the school day because when we got off he would be waiting there to walk us back up to the house. He went everywhere with us.

 To this day, big cedars bring back strong memories of home. When my dad cleared the land that he grew up on, and that our house now is on, he left many of the big trees. These cedars are some of them.

I remember how difficult it was as a kid to open and close this rickety old gate. We drove the old red tractor through it to take hay to the lower shed, we opened it to get escaped sheep back in. This is also the view that I would see if I looked left as I pumped my legs harder and harder, to fly my swing higher and higher, on the wooden big toy my dad built. 

  Hydrangeas. They are green (at least the white ones) for the longest time before they turn into their respective lovely colors. As a kid I remember thinking that they were quite plain and drab looking when they were green and wondering why Mom didn't replace them with something showier. I rather like their delicate little blossoms now.
I always forget what these are called (Mom? Sarah? feel free to comment and remind me) but I have always liked them. My Grandma Temus, who lived just on the other side of the apple orchard from us, had them in hanging baskets each summer. I remember how fun it was to pop the buds and how much she would get after us if she caught us.
The back of the side of the house as seen from Ian and Cheryl's 5th-wheel. The hot tub is a new addition. Sadly they got that after all the kids had left home.
 Black-eyed Susan's. Can't have too many of these. I remember how much Mom seemed to enjoy working in her flower garden, thus the flowers bring back happy memories.

I can't remember a time when this old rusty plow (sorry Dad, I know it was more of a rake attachment thing...) wasn't in this spot. I love it.

 One of my absolute favorite things about home is watching the sunset from the large back windows that face west. Our house was built on the top of a hill and the view of the sunsets are spectacular.

I remember when my mom redid the flower garden circle in the driveway. It was surrounded by rocks before without the statue. The statue took a bit of getting used to at first (especially because it was white when we got it) but the sad part was getting rid of the large flat boulder at the bottom of the circle. It was so much fun to play on. Funny how little things are so important to kids.

 There were always a lot of shoes at the front entry way. I still remember Mom calling us to come pick them up and choose ONE pair to leave. It was a futile effort.

Pickles. Nothing like Mom's pickles. It was Joe's and my job to pick the grape leaves to put in the bottom of the jar. Mom would show us with her hands what size she wanted and the two of us would go down to the garden and pick some. Upon return she would throw out the ones that didn't make the cut, pick out a sample one to send us with and we would go back down.

We were each assigned a row or two of corn and other vegetables to weed each Saturday before we could go do anything else. It felt like slave labor often times. But once the corn got big we had a grand time playing in them!

 Squash and pumpkins. Mmmmm! Each fall we would each pick a pumpkin and haul them up to the house in wheel barrows to be carved. The biggest one, which Dad always would carve (with some input from the rest of us), was always the most exciting one. I think there is a picture of each us as a baby sitting in a carved pumpkin. I don't think any of us are exactly smiling about the situation.

Speaking of autumn. We never got a single trick-or-treater the entire time we lived there. I guess no one was too keen on driving up a long, dark, unfamiliar driveway.

  Raspberry jam. Raspberry syrup. Raspberry blueberry jam. Raspberry rhubarb jam. Yum.

 Go down and pick berries. Go back up with bowl only to have Mom tell you that you didn't get enough. Go back down. Repeat. It took a long while, but I am proud to say that I am now quite good at picking raspberries. Hint: there are an awful lot hiding under the leaves.

Pruning and tying raspberry bushes is also where I learned the square-knot. Yup. I was quite proud of that as a child.

A lot has changed over the years, but there is a whole lot that has stayed the same. I didn't have a perfect childhood. No one has. But I am well aware that mine was blessed. Blessed to live where my father was raised. Blessed to have so much freedom to roam. Blessed to grown-up interacting with so many animals. Blessed to have had been raised where work was a requirement in so many ways. (I wouldn't have thought about it that way when I was struggling to carry a 5-gallon bucket of water down to the chicken coup after dark or pruning apple trees.) Blessed with parents who never stopped trying to be the best parents they could be. Blessed to grow-up where, out of necessity almost, my siblings became my best friends. Blessed to have a whole lot of space to be alone to think, cry, look at the stars, talk to God and ponder the big things in life.

I don't write all this to boast about how good I have it, or to show off; but rather to acknowledge and give thanks for the blessings that I have been given and the profound influence they have had on my life.

Now matter how many homes I have, or places I live throughout my life, coming back here will always feel like coming home.

Thank you so much Cheryl for capturing this special place!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Utah Vacation 2015!

A couple of weeks ago we went to Utah and had a grand ol' time. Keith's brother, (Paul) and his family were going to be there so we found ways to make the trip happen. You see Paul, Jenae and crew have been in Germany with the air force for the last four years and were being transferred to Japan. They were going to be in the US for a few weeks in between and we didn't want to miss the opportunity to see them. Well long story short, they got reassigned to Ohio at the last minute and due to air force logistical issues, didn't get to Utah until after we had left. They flew in a couple days after we flew out. Well at least they are within drivable distance now.

Missing them didn't keep us from having a great time!

The first day there Keith found these old wagon wheel hubs that he used to play with growing up. We took them for a spin. Although Keith was the most skilled by far, I could still hold my own even though it had been several years since I had done it last.

Charlie had a blast! Jane just liked running around with the stick.

Left: Grandpa with his bonsai tree in progress Right: The family (minus Grandpa Joe who is taking the picture)
We also took a trip down to Mona to visit Grandma and Grandpa Lowe (Bonnie's parents). It is always so nice to see them. Unbeknownst to me, Grandpa has had a long standing interest in bonsai trees. He was given some supplies and a couple instruction books for father's day and has dove right in. He mentioned at one point that he doesn't know why he has been fascinated with them for so long. Perhaps it came about from the time he spent in Japan during the war? Grandma is doing well and is always sweet to remember to have some treat that Charlie can have. For only seeing us once or twice a year she sure has a good memory! It touches my heart and always makes Charlie excited to see that there are "low-phe" foods for him. Good people.

The next day (Tuesday) was the long awaited Dinosaur Museum day. Charlie has been really into dinosaurs lately. He knows more about dinosaurs than I do (which isn't saying much, but still!). At night he will ask us to tell a story about a (fill in an obscure dinosaur name) and we have to ask him to tell us about it first.

The museum is big and wonderful. I went with my geology class back in my undergrad years and had a blast. Charlie, of course, wasn't as interested in the details as he was in the big displays of dinosaur skeletons. He actually correctly identified quite a few of them.

Near the end of the museum there is an extensive sand and water table the wove around the room like a river. It was steeper in some areas than others to create different water speeds. There were also a big collection of plastic dinosaurs to bury and uncover. When I came with my class we were supposed to create different types of river shapes and flow patterns, but this time it was much less technical.

When Keith and I joined in the fun we became focused on making a turn in a river that would uncover the dinosaur we had buried in a strategic spot along the bank. That was until Charlie rushed over and gathered the sand into a big volcano, into which he stuck a large plastic triceratops and made it explode.


Triceratops!!! Charlie's absolute favorite dinosaur.

We, of course, had to take a picture in front of the prehistoric shark (megalodon?). Charlie was willing to cooperate at first (picture on left) but quickly wanted to move onto see what exciting things were waiting to be discovered in the next room.

Later that night Keith and I slipped away to go to the temple and dinner and Cafe Rio (yum!). On the way back we picked up some desserts from P.F. Chang's (yum!) and took them over to Dan and Becky's place. You know the kind of friends that you can be apart for months or years and when you get back together it is like you saw each other just last week? Yeah, they are that kind of friends. A trip to Utah just wouldn't be complete with out visiting them.

The third day we spent at the updated natural history museum on the BYU campus. It is always fun to see places I know so well be appreciated so much so that they are upgraded to be so much more than they were before. Even though the "before" was pretty cool too. The new and improved museum attracts a lot more people which I always love to see happen with a museum. Especially a natural history one.

They have done a great job with entire place and it continues to be improved upon. This is a part of the upstairs which is still in transition.

I love that they put two of my favorite quotes regarding our role in conservation on the walls of the museum.

My professors would pull out these versus of scripture (and others like them) frequently. And can I just say that I love, and never get tired of looking at that painting of Christ? I really want a copy someday. (hint, hint)  ;)

After the museum we went home (where Granny B had kindly stayed with a napping Jane so we could go to the museum with just Charlie) and got some lunch. Charlie really hates loud noises. Like planes taking off, loud flushing toilets, blenders, etc. Jane doesn't mind though. Monkey see, monkey do.

Left: Beaver swimming center of the photo. Top left: That big pile of sticks kind of covered with plants is the beaver den. (yeah, Charlie couldn't see it either) Bottom left: the trail walkers, complete with Jane walking the stroller. Of course.
Later that evening we packed a picnic dinner and headed up the canyon for a walk along the Provo river trail. Charlie saw his first wild beaver and Keith saw his first kingfisher, which he has always wanted to see. I am pretty sure that I wanted Charlie to be able to see that beaver even more than he did. Ama (Gramma) gave him this book of animal homes and he loves the pages about beavers and how they build their dens. Shortly after we got to Granny B and Grandpa Joe's house Grandpa Joe gave Charlie a little pair of binoculars for him to use while we were there. He pretty much took them everywhere including on the trail.

That night, after we had laid Charlie down for the night, we went upstairs to play boardgames. During a break we found Charlie asleep on the stairs. He must have been curious about what was going on upstairs but too tired to stay awake on the stairs. He had a long day.

Thursday was zoo day!

Keith and I hadn't been to Hogle Zoo since Valentine's Day 2009, the year we were married. As an unrelated a side note, that was the first Valentine's Day that I didn't celebrate as SAD (Singles Awareness Day). Thanks Keith for being my first, and only, Valentine. ;)

Okay, enough with the lovey dovey memories and on to the fun.

I have never seen a giraffe bend over to drink. In all the documentaries they have always splayed their front legs out keeping them straight. I think someone should pay me to go around to a bunch of zoos, and then to Africa to compare how giraffes drink in the wild versus in captivity. Think I have a chance?

Right next to the giraffe enclosure was the ostrich at which Jane kept on yelling "duh!" (duck). Not quite.

It was a hot day! Even the elephants were feeling the heat. Interesting factoid (at least to me): swimming doesn't seem to be an automatic thing for elephants. The grandmother (who has passed away since our visit) and mother weren't born and raised around water so they won't get in to it to cool off. The daughter (and granddaughter) however was born at the Hogle Zoo where there is an elephant sized pool and loves playing in it.

The life sized dinosaurs (temporary exhibits) around the zoo fascinated Charlie. They moved and roared! He was especially entranced by the mommy and baby triceratops. He also had fun getting sprayed by the velociraptors.

Again with Charlie's funny faces for the camera. Love it.

Lion spotting.

We took a break to eat our lunch next to the carousel. Charlie made a bee line to the poison dart frog.

Taking the train ride around a section of the zoo.

Charlie our navigator; on the job even while riding on Dad's shoulders and obstructing Keith's view.

Don't ask what is going on with Jane's skirt, because I don't know.

Charlie's favorite was without a doubt the crocodiles.

Jane's favorite was definitely the seals and sea lions. I felt absolutely terrible when we needed to leave them. Oh how she wailed as I pealed her off the glass!

Back home Jane quickly went to her favorite spot at Granny B's and Grandpa Joe's.

I love this: Grandpa Joe discussing bird feathers to an enthralled audience.

Friday was the 24th (Pioneer Day, which is in fact an observed holiday in Utah)

Since we knew that practically anywhere we would want to go would be super crowded, we decided to spend a fun filled day chillin' at home.

We broke-in the new wading pool and Charlie, at least, spent the vast majority of the day in it.

No, not sleeping. Just taking a short break before returning to important matters: like childhood.

Saturday we toured our old stomping grounds.

The new life sciences building is AWESOME, but it is still a sad to see a big hole where the building was that held so many happy memories.

Jane takes walking very seriously while Keith and Granny B take a more relaxed approach.

Left: When this duck grabbed the bread right out of Keith's hand Jane freaked, almost leaped into his arms, and wouldn't let Keith put her down until we were well passed them.
Walking along the south hill updated trail was great. It is lovely and I was happy to see that they preserved the section where we would have our plant id tests. It was so much easier to identify the living plant as opposed to the ancient museum specimens that were used for the majority of the tests. I still remember late depressing nights spent, in the building that is now gone, studying those old dried plants. The janitor would come by and let me know that he was locking up the building and as he left my will to keep going would leave as well.

Anyway... The next day was Sunday and we took the brief walk (yes, you read that right) to church. We had fun catching up with people and Granny B and Grandpa Joe had fun showing off the grand kids.

Then just like that, the week was over and were back on a plane headed back to Fargo. It was so fast but oh so good.