Friday, January 01, 2010

Taking Another Look Here and There

Reindeer view #1

Reindeer view #2. I'm not moving Rudy until after the last snowfall....whenever that might be!
Snow was predicted for the whole weekend...and we got a whole lotta nada. I want more snow...NOW!

Trip #4 to the State Capitol: A large family was having a professional picture taken inside the building on the steps, and apparently one family member had escaped the portrait.

I wondered when his folks would finally notice he was missing; before or after the photographer was finished?

Or maybe he was the photographers kid. I sure hope so!
Guess where this picture was taken?
Note the old style Edison light bulbs with the lit wire. Enjoy the look those bulbs give you while you can....florescent bulbs are going to be mandated before long.
(Ewwww...I'm stocking up on the regular bulbs while I still can.)

Give up?

Well, it took four visits, but I finally got in!
I tried the door to The Office of the Governor of Utah, yet again, and this time the door swung OPEN!

The administrative assistant outside his office told me that the Governor's desk was made from the century old trees that were in a grove around the Capitol grounds. A tornado struck the area in 1999, and the radical storm left but one tree standing.
I've seen pictures of how the grove looked, the area looks pretty bare now, with still fairly young trees.
Are you proud of me finally getting into the Governor's office?
I am.
Four times is a charm I guess.
Funny thing...I still can't remember what the guy's name is!
Probably it was all for the best that he was out when I visited don't you think?
It would have been soooo embarrassing not to know if he had been there to greet me!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ten years...wait...I can't process that fast...

Water over the bridge.
Life goes on.

Except...sometimes water freezes and doesn't run over the bridge quite so quickly.

It hangs there, and creates weird forms that are both opaque and translucent.

Eventually the forms will resolve, melt away and move on, but for a moment all the ripples and spray can be examined.

Tonight...I want to take a moment to look at the frozen memories of the decade about to leave us. To try to make sense of it...process it...and remember how it was.

For surely if there ever was a decade that flowed swiftly though my life, it was this one.

There was a time for me when life unfolded at a reasonable speed. There were the grade school years with predictable summer vacations and classmates, high school, college, marriage, babies, family life...

Then the "family" years were children had graduated from college, and I found myself in a new house in a city I had never imagined living in, with letters after my name.

It was a new century. 2000 dawned upon me in Houston, and I was a newly graduated MLS, who was to work at an amazingly huge corporation using my yet untried research skills. was all so new...but my life still revolved around Bernie and the family was in San Diego mostly, and all that was new felt like an interesting interlude in my life.

I imagined my children would soon marry and have children, and Bernie and I would make new friends and travel, and all would continue in a cheery way with some typical bumps and highlights along the way.

The Internet access was great and still pretty new...but not all that mesmerizing to me yet.

Looking back, I see with crystal clear precision the moments when all the cheery expectations changed.

My boss was a fine law librarian named Carolee who had lived in Houston for about twenty years. Within the first week of work she warned me about flooding...pointing out the freeway underpasses that had flooded awhile back stranding city workers until the water eventually receded.

"Happens once every decade" she explained, taking me over to one of the windows that afforded a view of the city from our 44th floor library.

"A big flood or hurricane happens once a century. That flood was probably it. But if you ever see water covering the rail tracks, leave. Otherwise you'll get stuck here downtown".

Secretly I shook my head. Surely she was an alarmist.

Life in the year 2000 was pretty good. Enron, where my husband worked, was rocking the business world with their success. In fact, every company seemed to be thriving in America. We were richer than we had ever been before and our newly purchased house was simply amazing.

Late in May 2001 a tropical storm called Allison blew in from the Gulf, and circled around and around, while dropping nearly 40 inches of rain on Houston in less than 48 hours. It really was the once every 100 year flood...and all around us people lost their houses, and freeways were so deeply underwater that moving vans were completely submerged.


Thankfully we were at home, about an hour north of the city. Had we not turned on the television we would have never known of the destruction around us. Had Bernie not decided to go get a hair cut, we would not have known that all ATMs and cell phones were not functioning. We wondered why no one called to see if we were OK...we didn't know the phone lines were not functioning.

I guess that was the beginning of the wake up call that still has me disoriented.

A few months later, in September, Carolee called to me as I headed out from the library to go to a training session wherein I would learn to pull legal documentation. I wasn't particularly interested in learning about law research, but I knew the trainer, an attorney who always brought great kolaches and donuts to the sessions.

"A plane just flew into a New York high rise" Carolee called, peering at her computer screen. I back tracked to her office and together we looked at the news report. We both agreed that was quite odd, perhaps a hoax, and decided that it certainly was weird.

I headed to the meeting. A projected computer screen on the wall instructed me on how to create search strings and research strategies.

The door to the training room opened. "Another plane has hit another high rise" someone whispered.
The training sputtered...and then some one asked if we wanted to watch the television report.
We were curious...and gathered around watching the seemingly endless loop of planes flying into buildings.
What on earth could it mean?
A phone rang.
An announcement was made: Everyone was to leave the building and go home.
I called Bernie, and moments later he pulled up in front of the building.
I climbed into the car and we headed home, north, as behind us the streets filled with cars and people that were swiftly caught up in grid lock.
Our cell phones stopped cell circuit overloaded.
We got home just in time to watch the buildings in far away New York fall.

After that I had a hard time not checking the news constantly. When I returned to work, no airplanes were seen the skies outside, and when a military jet did a fly by, I felt every nerve in my body tense.

Bernie was out of work. He had figured out what Enron was doing...or at least a bit of it, and was promptly fired. The business world was about to was almost impossible to do business with the new security measures due to 9/11, but soon other things were about to unravel.

The government, or specifically, the Securities and Exchange Commission, had woken up, and was investigating how major corporations were deceiving their shareholders. Enron was one of their first marks, and more businesses were to be toppled as well.

Bernie did find another job, and God was gracious to us during that time. Had he not lost his job before 9/11, things would have been much much worse.

So there were floods, terrorists, and criminal companies impacting my world.

The same old, same old wasn't the same anymore.

We realized that while we slept, things could change drastically. A moment away from the news could mean being too late to escape catastrophe. People had drowned because they had not known water was rising, financial ruin befell those who could not keep up with financial changes afoot.

I began to hunt information relentlessly. I taught attorneys how to research Securities and Exchange Commission filings, and learned how corrupt most businesses were.

I also learned that our country's financial well being was seriously compromised in ways that people would only learn about in breaking news released over the decade.

All this was jangling information was "out there". It still had nothing to do with my own physical being.

Then my friend got a call: her husband and two children had died in a fire while they slept. Four days later as we walked into the church for the funeral for her husband and two very young children, overhead the newly exploded space shuttle Columbia was dropping pieces of hardware and human remains around our area.

The deep grief we felt: What was it really about?

A day or so later a routine check up revealed that I had a large mass...and would need surgery immediately.

I had a handle on the news "out there", but not on this kind of news: seeing how frail bodies could be was different. No amount of research could guard against that kind of danger. My faith was strong. Yet I stared the facts of the world in the eye, and realized how clueless I had been.

Twice more during the decade I would be hospitalized with "life threatening" situations. Having a doctor tell me I might die began to feel like being told I needed routine eye checks. I might be going to heaven soon, or maybe it wouldn't be for years.

Who knows.

They certainly didn't .

From 2000 to 2009 many good things happened too. Bernie and I travelled more than ever before, visiting Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Canada, Cayman Island, Scotland and more and more states each year. Lovely trips...

Yet even vacations became a time for wariness for me: As we flew to snorkel and swim in the tropical island's waters, my brother suddenly passed away. All week I felt as though there was something I should know...and figured it was just being away from my news sources that was bothering me.

I didn't imagine the news that I missed while I was away would be about such an unexpected personal loss.

How could I have prepared for something like that?

I couldn't.

Engagements were made, weddings were planned, and one marriage actually occurred.

What I "knew" changed engagement ring and wedding invitations turned out not to mean a wedding would actually take place. Meeting "special" people didn't necessarily mean they would be part of my future either when those romantic alliances ended.

I made friends, and friends moved on. And each time it made it harder to risk friendship again. I realized friendship was more fragile that I had imagined.

Turns out loosing friends may have been for the best: it made it much easier to move away from Houston when we did.

We moved to Salt Lake City just in time to miss Houston's "Once In A Hundred Years" hurricane that Carolee had discussed with me during those early years of the decade.

Hurricane Rita and Katrina had taught us the value of being prepared, and for the idea of having everything we owned wiped out. Thankfully Hurricane Ike didn't destroy our Houston house. Everything we owned except for two duffel bags full of clothes, our cars, computer and cats had been in that house during the storm. We were so thankful all was safe, but lived for a week not knowing if even a fragment of our belongings there remained.

For eight months in Salt Lake City we found it quite possible to live with just the meager amount we had left Houston with, and a bit more that we purchased or borrowed as needed.

We discussed that fact over and over. How much did we need to own anyway?

So here I am on December 31, 2009. Was it only a year ago that we bought the house we are living in?

2009 was not easy for us. I made sure that every bit of beauty and wonder around us in Utah was enjoyed as much as possible while our "new" fifty-five year old house was being renovated, and while our family life changed.

Knowing of a brother fighting cancer, while your son plans a wedding, while the news continues to reveal more and more convoluted all seemed like too much to process.

Life has happened and changed too fast this decade.

Maybe it is my age....maybe it is knowing how to find information....maybe it IS actually that life that is happening too fast.

I really don't know.

Tonight is a blue moon. By definition, a blue moon is a second full moon in a single month's time, making the year have thirteen instead of just twelve full moons.

The last time New Year's Eve had a blue moon was 1990. The next time that will happen won't be until 2028.

The oddities of the calendar as related to the moon doesn't really bother me, although Biblical dates were set by lunar rather than solar occurrence. I guess what I am trying to say here ultimately is that the last ten years has had more than I was expecting.

Sort of like a thirteenth full moon in a year instead of twelve.

As the hours run out on the year and the decade, I am recording all this with the hope that the waters of time will continue to flow and wash away the odd memories of the past years.
I will step back and view the decade and make a decision to believe that it is was part of the story that God has written, a story that He promises will end with a wonderful ending that as yet we can not fully imagine.
Let the flow of time continue.
Let the next chapter be written.
But please...could it be possible for my life's events happen just a tiny bit slower?
I need more time to process change as it happens

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hot Date on a Cold Night

Our hot date on a cold Monday Night:
Christmas Lights at Thanksgiving Point.
I really don't understand what "Thanksgiving Point" is, actually.
It apparently is a place with gardens and events and whatnot, and you can get a membership to it if you want to.
Bernie and I just wanted to go see the drive through their Christmas lights.
The drive had been advertised for awhile, and Monday was the last night that they could be seen.
I packed a thermos full of hot cocoa and we hit the road.
From far away it looked like this.

We paid eight dollars at the entrance. For two dollars more I could have had 3D glasses to wear, but with my glasses I couldn't make them work. Plus I didn't understand how something I was seeing in 3D could be made more 3D with the glasses.

We were told to turn off our car's headlight and drive slowly through the lights.

The displays were about two stories high, and were highly animated.
The smoke flew from the chimney and the windows and trees blinked merrily.
Penguins raced over igloos...
And Gingerbread men vaulted over our car.
There were Candyland scenes, Victorian Christmas scenes and 50's rock and roll scenes, all set to appropriate music.
Reindeer trotted up a ski ramp and launched into the sky...
Candy canes danced and hard candy patties spun about.

I think Bernie and I were the inspiration for this couple that raced along on their snow mobile.


I got a kick out the gifts tumbling through the sky.
Busy elves put the final touches on a cottage.

I did mention that it was a cold night didn't I?

15 degrees F., -9.44 C.

Boy did that hot cocoa hit the spot!

We could see families taking in the lights in horse drawn trolleys and couple snuggling under blankets in horse drawn carriages, and I wasn't the least bit envious.

There is a time for such romantic conveyance, and also a time for good old fashioned common sense...which in this case meant staying in our car with the heater blazing away full blast!

Pretty fun.
As a Monday night date night, it was just right.
The only thing that could have made it better would have been if we could have been on the date as two three year olds.
Oh yeah.
That would have been amazing.
Maybe next year we can borrow a couple of tykes and see the lights through their eyes.
That is an idea to look forward to.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Field Trip: Exploring Liberty Park in Winter

I've been eating like a jolly old elf...sugar and sweets and yummy rich meats, which are encasing my ribs in fat.

Time to start walking again.

And exploring Salt Lake City as well. Or as I have come to call it: Going on a field trip.

Come along with me if you'd like!

I've driven past Liberty Park many times and wanted to stop to have a look around.

While Monday was quite cold, there was no wind or snowfall, so off I went for an adventure.

At one end of the park is a pond which was mostly iced over, but still had a nice collection of waterfowl which quacked and honked and chuckled at me as I walked.

I kept thinking of Sweden....Iceland...Finland...and wondered if flying for hours would afford me a better wintry view.

This view was a mere fifteen minutes from home. For now...I think it will do.

The gazebo was situated on a small island reached via a small arched foot bridge.

Romantic me imagined the flirtations and meetings that must have happened there over the years.

Seems like the perfect setting for a lovers wintery tryst.

(The view from inside the gazebo...)

A little way over was a snow covered berm being used for a sledding run by two young boys.

I confess...I gave in to the sledding urge myself: I dropped on my back and raised my feet up. My knee length down jacket kept my back warm while my body coasted to the foot of the hill.

As I walked away I gave a shrug and a wave to the young mother who stood supervising her boys as they sledded.

No...once was enough...for now.

I trudge on through the snow and caught a glimpse of a Farris wheel in the distance.

I had no idea there were rides like that in the park...

Further along I came came to an enormous green house. A dog emerged and raced up to me giving me a bit of a scare. A woman came out and called for the dog, who gave me a sheepish doggy grin and wagged tail as if repentant for the earlier approach.
The woman told me that the greenhouse served to grow plants for all the public parks, and that I was welcome to come inside some other was just then 3:30, and the green house was closed for the day.

I could see small tables and chairs scattered amongst the geraniums; what a lovely place to spend some time with a friend over a cup of tea poured from a thermos on a winter's day.

A little further on was a lovely old house.

I cautiously approached the front door, not knowing if it was a private residence or part of the park's buildings.

Whew...I wasn't trespassing. It was a building built in the 1850's and is now owned by the State of Utah, and is used as a Museum of Utah Folk Art.

I was quite enchanted by the door handle. Isn't it a beauty?

The building was closed until April. I'll be jotting the opening date on to my calendar; can't wait to see all that's inside!

From the front porch I could view a fountain.

It appeared to be quite old...and I know it would make a lovely cooling splashy sound in summer.

If the house was built in 1850...I wonder how old the trees about it were? I shot these pictures with my camera pointing straight up.

At last I came across a map of Liberty park. I have visited Tracy Avery before; once on Christmas Day three years ago, and again with my parents a few weeks ago. Lots of construction is going on there, another visit will be made once all the work is done.

I was surprised to see that there was a swimming pool and tennis courts to be enjoyed some day as well. Liberty Park has more to offer than I had known.

Aesop's Corner? Turns out the Children's Play Area was donated by the Greek Community.
It had an Olympic Theme, and lots of great play equipment.

There was a rubber mat like material beneath the equipment, which made for an interesting wobbly walking with all the covering snow.

Tempting....but what if I got stuck in the slide going down? I could freeze to death before anyone would find me.

Or worse...I'd be found, and 911 would be called to cut me free...I can see it all now in the newspaper.


I'll leave that fun for a time when I am less bundled up in sweater and jacket and post Christmas treat chub as well.

Now I thought this was very cool: A xylophone made from wood! I tapped on the different boards and they sounded back with a clear chime like note.

More music could be made here...

And here. I imagine in summer the whole area is blasting with childish orchestration celebrating the sheer joy of music making.

Surrounding the play area was an obstacle course marked with tortoise and hare motif, and words of wisdom about endeavor and perserverance. Quite amusing to have the same motif on the sun dial as well.

(Oh, and energy efficient as well. Global warming put to good use. Thanks Al!)

Not all the play in the play park necessitated physical exertion. Several checker boards were scatted about for those who wished a more cerebral challenge. On this day I thought the challenge would really be to play the game without minding a frozen backside!

Liberty Park....I'll be back again for another look, perhaps on a warm spring day come April.