Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Colorful World

Hurricane Ike went directly over Kingwood. Power is out all over Houston; we don't know how our house is, but we are sure our neighbors would have called us if something was terribly amiss. We don't want to call and use up their cell phone charge (maybe they can use their car to recharge it?), so what else is there to do but go on about our life, and pray for those who have a lot of clean up ahead of them.

It isn't going to be pretty in the Houston area for quite awhile.

Marie, Lin, Janitha, Hope...I am thinking of you today....I hope you are doing OK..

Life here in SLC is fine. Wisteria is blooming-now that is an oddity isn't it Sara? So Calif wisteria blooms in the spring and makes pods in the fall. This wisteria was blooming around the local Olive Garden restaurant entrance.

We were able to rent an apartment and get the cats out of storage after ten days. They had kind of gotten used to the kennel, all their "pal" had gone home except Hallee, and a new bipolar cat was busy hissing and lashing out at us as we left. Good riddence to that poor fellow; he managed to nick both our boy's noses when they were doing neighborly snoopervising while they were out of their kennels on their exercise break.

Getting the cats used to a new empty apartment did nothing for their frayed nerves. B. held them, and petted them, trying to reassure them.

When they get a bit more used to the place we will let them go out on the balcony.
The balcony had a great view that first day; the sky was beautiful.

Tiggie preferred a different view. Later Hart took up residence in the corner area...frankly, anything that makes them feel more secure works for us right now.

We don't intend to invite anyone over who would judge us on our cat's lack of manners anyway.

The next day we visited them again, and there was a rainbow over the city.
We have a view of the Key Bank building, Wells Fargo bank building, the US bank building, and the Chase bank building. And the Hilton. Let us know where you bank and we'll keep an eye on your money!

The other end of the rainbow was arching over Jeff's place. Nice symbolism, huh?
(Acutally I followed the rainbow all the way home, stopping several times to try to get a better shot.)
Last night we had a FABULOUS date! We had had movers move Jeff's guest bed, small chest of drawers, a lamp, an end table, three bar stools and a grey recliner. Since we needed everything else for daily household goods, we headed out to IKEA.

I LOVE Ikea!!!!

Here's the kitchen supplies.
See Lovella? I did get a bunch of red things! The red wisk was cheaper than the stainless ones; and the red apple corer was just too fun to pass up. Red measuring spoons and cups and strainer.
IKEA prices are just cool. The big clear glass bowl in the corner was under $4.

Our "love nest" now has table settings for two. We had so much fun figuring out what dishes to get...B. picked the white, I added the green bowls and the printed side dish. And colorful placemats (at $1.49 per placemat, why not have a little fun with that?)

I told B. to pick out the shower curtain; he picked the one I was eyeing! Flashback to Kate's orange themed apartment in Switzerland! Of course we had to get an orange cotton bath mat and towels too!
That's going to be a cheery wake up place to be each morning.
So here we are, having our first meal in our apartment, watching the news about Ike on the Internet.
Ike...Ikea....hum, isn't that odd how much difference a single letter can make?
I'll post more of our apartment pull together as it happens. We are trying to decide on a second seating option (IKEA Poang chair or Ektorp couch? Or...????)
Outside our apartment the church bells are chiming the hour, just like they did in St. Gallen Switzerland.
Seriously, how cool is that?
Thank everyone for praying for our house in Kingwood and all that is going on with us.
It has been really something being on this adventure.
But rainbows are to be seen, and would you believe this: as I type this it is noon, and the church chimes are ringing one of my favorite hymns:
Oh Sing a Song of Bethlehem:
O sing a song of Bethlehem, of shepherds watching there,
And of the news that came to them from angels in the air.
The light that shone on Bethlehem fills all the world today;
Of Jesus’ birth and peace on earth the angels sing alway.
O sing a song of Nazareth, of sunny days of joy;
O sing of fragrant flowers’ breath, and of the sinless Boy.
For now the flowers of Nazareth in every heart may grow;
Now spreads the fame of His dear Name on all the winds that blow.
O sing a song of Galilee, of lake and woods and hill,
Of Him Who walked upon the sea and bade the waves be still.
For though like waves on Galilee, dark seas of trouble roll,
When faith has heard the Master’s Word, falls peace upon the soul.
O sing a song of Calvary, its glory and dismay,
Of Him Who hung upon the tree, and took our sins away.
For He Who died on Calvary is risen from the grave,
And Christ, our Lord, by Heaven adored, is mighty now to save.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I have to say it: this is just surreal to be watching the news with pictures of places in Houston that I know. In case you are wondering, our house in Kingwood is north of downtown Houston, and is at the one o'clock position when you see the Houston map that looks like a spider web. If we were home, we would not be evacuating, but we could still have storm damage.

Our faithful friend Janitha has put lawn furniture away; other than that all that is left to do is to pray, wait and see. It is an interesting storm; if you haven't already, take a look at this article, which will explain how really odd this storm is. I've also read that it is taking the same path as the 1901 Galveston Hurricane that killed 8,000 people.

Tomorrow we will have our few borrowed bits of furniture moved into our downtown apartment. The cats were picked up from the kennel yesterday and have already been moved into the unfurnished apartment. They really missed us...and we kinda missed them too.

So tomorrow we will settle into to one nest, and keep a wary eye electronically on our other nest.
What a life.

Stay tuned for updates.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Memories of Switzerland

This past Saturday was just beautiful, and we decided to head up to Alta, about a 20 minute drive from Jeff's house, and go for a hike.

Just looking around from the side of the road was delightful.

It brought back fond memories of hiking with B. two summers ago in Switzerland. The area looks so much like Switzerland that visiting Swiss exclaim it looks just like home.

I totally concur with that observation.

(Visit SLC! Just like Switzerland without the long flight and high prices!)

Just starting on the trail I was already seeing new wildflowers.

( I still need an identification guide, but I did learn that the name of the interesting flowers from a few posts ago was called Green Gentian. I saw Blue Gentian in Switzerland...)

The cross of snow in the crook of the mountain was neat to see. Bernie is dreaming of when these mountains will be solid white and he will once again ski down them.

Check out that greedy bee.
(B. had his epi pen with him so we didn't worry about the bees.)

Another new wildflower, with a furry throat.

The flowers looking down into a small stream: Sweet!

I was getting into the flowers..

Then I noticed the rocks. There was this smooth slab with interesting lines etched across the grain. I wondered what made the marks. I found myself stroking the rock over and over again, enjoying the cool yet strong sensation.
The satin smooth rock face fragmenting in squares, bit by bit for how long?

I was really rubber necking as we hiked along: flowers, rocks, sky, view...

The rock's colors and patterns made me recall the question on how to best catalogue visual textures on rocks and landscape. Would I need to document percentage of black, white and orange in this photography? Or would it be more important to document the spacing between the dots? It seems unimportant unless you are taking visual records that needs to be retrieved later by specific criteria.

I thought the rock was pretty, so I took the shot and decided I would not worry about cataloging it for now.

I have tried and tried to decide which was this picture should go.
The flowers really were facing down though.
Our hike was only about a mile and a half long, no big deal, except that it was mostly going straight up a mountain side.
We passed several people coming down; they all were smiling and saying that the climb was totally worth it.

This is what was at the trail's top. Cecret Lake! What a surprise to me!

(And how maddening not to be able to find out if it is a historical misspelling of the word 'secret" or if it was named after someone named Cecret. I've been trying to find out....)

The water in the glacial pond was rather low, judging from the deep shoreline.

The water was the kind of crystal clear that you always hope lakes will be.

Bernie was looking for something in the water...

I was looking at Bernie. He looked so natural, so happy...

Oh here's one. Here's what B. was looking for! A salamander!

I had never seen a salamander before. I couldn't believe how they looked down in the water.

They looked like tiny dragons, about the size of a large cucumber.

The more I looked, the more of them I saw. Can you believe these pictures are taken from above the water surface? The salamanders are about a foot or two under the water.

Ahhh......perfect place for a little nap.
(Yes, he did catch a salamander too, but let it go before I could take a picture.)

The reflections..the wonder why people love to take this hike.

I just could not believe leave the house, drive 20 minutes, and be here in about an hour later.

A natural bonsai tree.

Textures everywhere. My friend Gail told me that fallen trees stay intact for centuries due to the dry cool climate, so unlike Houston where trees would decompose in a few years.

I wonder how long this tree stump has been here beside the lake?

Looking back down to where we began our hike in the Albion basin.

Back to rock pictures. Stripes!

Daisies lined the path. Funny how we took the same trail up and down, yet it looked totally different on the way back down. I didn't remember the daisies on the way up. (Probably because I was gasping for air...)

Then we hike through the forest and the basin. A little of last Monday's snow was still in the north facing forest grove. Bernie christened me with the season's first snowball.

How fun to be in the warm sunshine one moment, and in the shady cool the next.

A pink version of Indian Paint Brush. Or at least that's what it looked like to me!
Have I mentioned how much I am LOVING IT here???
B. and I thought back to our hike in Switzerland, where we sat on a bench, enjoyed the mountain view, and talked about our dream of living somewhere where we could take such walks/hikes regularly.
At the time we didn't know how soon that would be possible, or even where it might be.
We marvelled: Our Switzerland daydreams have become a reality.
And we've only been here three weeks...there's still so much to see!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Looking around...enjoying what there is to see.

Last week went by so fast. My first days at work were great; I got my "roadkill" library organized a bit, and it now is starting to look like a real library!

Bernie and I car pooled to work together. One day I would drop him off, and have the car at my job, the next day we would switch. It is nice to drive into town together in the early light, and nice to chat about our days as we drive home.

I was waiting for him to come get me after work one day last week. I stood by the flower patch in front of the college, and shot a few pictures of the flowers with the circles around their middle.

Like, how many ways can you draw a circle?
Here's a regular circle.
Then there is the dotted circle.

A spiked circle, with golden brush strokes going up the petals, shading from deep brown to deep red, to true orange. Doesn't it look like someone was busy with a paint brush?

I count five circles here, including the center itself.

How about the brush stroke shading on this little zinnia?
(Taking pictures is always a good way to kill a few minutes....)

I thought I had packed all my important paper when we left for SLC. Turns out I forgot my Social Security card.
Without one, I would not be receiving any pay checks.
That would not be good...

My boss told me the SS office was two blocks over, so I should just go over and get a new one, and the receipt would work as proof.
Now think about this for a minute.
I give them my SS number as I know it so they can DEPOSIT money into my SS account.
Why would I lie about something like that?
If I gave them a bogus number, then I wouldn't be getting any money put in my account, it would be going into someone elses account.

Oh well. It was a pretty day; Bernie had the car so I decided I would go ahead and take the walk.
The SS building two blocks over didn't do SS cards (naturally) and the building that DID do the card was about ten blocks away across downtown.

What the heck...I could use the exercise.
And of course I had my camera with me and could take blog pictures along the way!

Now where else in the world could you find Mormonbilia except in Salt Lake City?
(My favorite Mormonbilia is a shot glass with the Mormon Temple on it.)
A lovely statue, with life size kids playing cat's cradle. I'd love to have this statue in my garden.

The TRAX trolley/train system had slightly large than life size sea gulls sculptures perching overhead.

In case you don't know the story: When the Mormons first came to Salt Lake City back in the 1848, they planted crops that were tragically attacked by crickets (Or was locust? Or are they the same thing???)
Suddenly a huge flock of sea gulls flew in and ate all the bugs and saved the day. It was a miracle, so the sea gulls have their own memorial statue, and now apparently also permanent berth over the TRAX.

Personally I'm not a big fan of sitting beneath seagulls.

Friday night we had a "date" at the library. While we were walking in, the sun was setting behind city hall. It is a beautiful building during the day; but just catching the sun peering through the tower was lovely.

We were able to hear the talk at the library on the Mountain Meadow Massacre Friday night, and it was standing room only in the library auditorium, which was theater sized. Most of the presenters were talking about violence in America in the 1800's western expansion. I found it quite encouraging to hear that back then the homicide rate was up to 400 murders per 10,000 people; today we have about a 7 homicides per 10,000 people. So while the newspaper reports are alarming, things are actually more peaceful now in American than it used to be.

Isn't that amazing?