Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What I Saw: Long Dresses and Much to Think About

Racing up State Street yesterday morning:

State Street ends at the Utah State Capitol Building. It also goes past the home of Brigham Young, one of the early leaders of the Latter Day Saints. That's his house on the left, the one with the little half circle hanging from the balcony.

I was running late as usual, but out of the corner of my eye I noticed a woman wearing a long dress, with long sleeves walking across the street. Then I saw a few more similarly clad women, and then I saw this:

That's the City and County Court House in the background. The signs?
I vaguely remember there was something going on with the Fundamental Latter Day Saints (FLDS) property...something about one of their leaders, Warren Jeffs who was arrested for marrying minors...something about a whole bunch of somethings.

(Above: More shots of the old City and County Building.)

Being inquisitive I checked the local news once I got to work. Apparently the FLDS were holding a protest in the park around the courthouse while awaiting the results of a hearing concerning their property that had been put under a law firms management by the government after Jeffs' arrest. The law firm now wanted to sell the land to pay for their legal costs.

Hoo boy. That doesn't sound very fair to me.
I decided to swing by the protest on my lunch break, to see what I could see.

Truth be told: I wanted to see the dresses and hairstyles up close. And maybe get a glimpse of a man with several wives in tow.

Don't the ladies look fresh, modest and sweet?
I found myself feeling rather "exposed" in my knee length skirt and sleeveless blouse.

I only saw a few infants...and only two noticeably pregnant women.
That very morning I had read that statistically only 1% of females in America are pregnant at any time. Blogland seems to buck that average...

It was 90 and getting hotter. Notice the ladies are not only wearing long sleeves and high necklines, but they also have long undergarments under their neat woven polyester dresses.
All that can be seen are their hands and faces.
Isn't it interesting that polygamous societies always insist on their women being well covered?
The Islamic faithfuls of course would also be covering their hair and perhaps their faces as well.

All the women did have long hair neatly braided up in a variety of styles. Check the braids on the green dress wearing woman on the right. Isn't that a pretty style?

I found myself smiling as I saw the groups of women chatting together. They all looked so...nice.
I almost found myself wishing I could be dressed like them, and being in such a closely knit group.

Often groups of women would be all in the same color and style dress. I wondered if they were a family...Mother and Daughters, or from a household?
I also looked for wedding rings. All the older women had wedding rings, and very few of the younger looking ones. I saw one woman who looked about 20 walking with her arm around her equally young husband's waist, and one elderly husband and wife walking hand in hand.

The men all wore long sleeves as well, with slouchy jeans and could easily blend into a crowd anywhere. I saw few mixed groups. The guys were in clusters, and women were in other clusters.

I only saw this one woman with a hat, while the men mostly were hatted. In this shot they were gathered around listening to their "leader" giving a television interview.

Many of them lined the sidewalk staring across the street at the building where the hearing was being held. Inside the building you could see other FLDS women inside. Those lining the sidewalk watched this building so intently I wondered if they were expecting a verdict at any moment. I finally asked a young woman if they were expecting to find out what was happening from the building across the way...not know where exactly the case was being heard. She very softly glanced at me, and with her eyes down, murmured softly "Yes ma'mam." I wondered if it was the first time she had ever spoken to some one who was not of her faith.

The news reported later that this was the largest protest ever held in SLC, and the largest gathering ever seen of FLDS members. It was estimated that 2,000 people were in attendance.

FLDS members had come from Arizona, Nevada, Texas and British Columbia.
I wondered how many stayed behind...and wondered how many of the women were gleefully seeing relatives from far flung places.

It really was quite surreal. The smell of crushed grass underfoot, the dappled shade on the walk ways, the flowers around the beautiful fountains

It is quite odd that when it is really hot outside fountains even start to look sticky and warm instead of refreshing.

With the old style courthouse in the back ground, it would have been easy to imagine myself time traveling to an earlier era. (Except in an earlier era they would have sensibly been wearing broad brimmed hats with those outfits! Or holding a parasol at the very least.)
I made the picture above into sepia tones to illustrate my point!

But it was even more surreal that that: The grounds holds "Brown Bag Lunch Concerts" and as the old fashioned garbed women visited, in the background was the music of a rock group blaring out across the grounds.
At first I thought it was weirdly their choice of music to underscore there protest. It took a while to find the source of the loud guitar music and wailing rockers!

By the time I left, the scene had become even more bizarre. Two 20something gang members had got into a fist fight...just before noon...and had managed to fight their way onto the rail tracks and got hit by an oncoming TRAX train.

They had gotten trapped beneath the train. A cop was overheard to say "I felt bad for the guy until I saw who it was" and the other cop (a woman) smiled at the remark.
I myself had to laugh at the comment that obviously the gangsters were punks: real bad guys would fall THROUGH the train windows, then CONTINUE fighting up the train aisle, then wind up ON THE ROOF of the train as it is about to go through a tunnel.


At least that is how it always happens in the movies!
(the two guys were taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life threatening.)

Interesting things to see everywhere. Love the yellow race car!

Back at work a fire truck had arrived in response to a student undergoing a panic attack during finals. I was so annoyed...I didn't get to see the fire guys as my office has no windows.
Fire guys are always worth a look-see, if you know what I mean.

Clearly it was just a very very strange day.

(And yes...I know...I should be ashamed of myself...seeking to get a good look at someone of another faith. Especially since I had refused to gawk at the Amish and Mennonites when I saw a bunch of them one time. I even had decided it was rude to take pictures of the Amish and Mennonites. I got over it though...Mennonites Julie, Lovella, Terry, Becky and Ray didn't seem to mind my taking their pictures at all!)

FLDS routinely practice and approve of polygamy, and that is illegal here in America. In fact, polygamy is a felony. I believe people should obey the laws of the land.

So the group of people protesting in front of the court house are by definition supporting seriously illegal activities. Illegal activity that is part of their religious faith. They believe that polygamy is commanded by God as a means to attain the highest level of heaven.

I also believe in religious freedom. Separation between church and state, meaning the state should butt out of faith practices that do not cause physical harm. The "state" seems to constantly be dreaming up ways to limit religious freedom...and isn't it always easiest to pick on a small group like the FLDS first to test the waters so to speak?

On the other hand this group believes in marriage to minors. I know that is not in the best physical interest of children that have barely achieved puberty.

On the other hand...and I am running out of hands here....our country barely bats an eye when scores of 13 and 14 year old have babies out of wedlock by adult males with no religious affiliation or accountability. Our taxes pay for those unfortunate mothers and children...who often are a second or third generation of early teen aged mothers. The polygamous fathers stick around and care for their wives and kids.

Yet it is said that the FLDS believe in "bleeding the beast" by applying for governmental assistance for their families whenever possible, while avoiding paying taxes as much as possible.
Writing this, it occurs to me that most folks try to avoid paying taxes as much as possible, and accept government hand outs for education.

My Bible praises several males that were involved in eye crossing levels of I really can't say it violates the Word of God. The Bible says a church leader should be the husband of only one wife...and is silent for those who are not church leaders.

As a women I loathe the idea of sharing my husband with another woman. Except of course on the days when I think being a senior wife might be nice because I could make the junior wives do all the gunk work around the house. (I'm joking by the way!)

So I am conflicted about the issues concerning the FLDS.

There is discussion about legalizing gay marriage, and polygamy/polyandry marriages in our country. What I find most interesting about the polygamy legalization movement is that it would not only serve the FLDS, but also the Islamic people. Right now Islamic men with multiple wives can not legally enter the country. If the marriage laws were to be many more Islamic people would choose to come here?

And why?

Something to think about for sure.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cooling off: Fly fishing in Big Cottonwood Canyon

(NOTE: The pictures in this post are best seen enlarged, and to save you the time it would take to enlarge them one by one, instead you can view all the pictures as a full screen slide show by clicking here.)

Late Sunday afternoon.
Weekend chores are done.
Time to keep our promise to ourselves: Every weekend go somewhere fun!
This time we loaded up the new car and drove 13 miles from our house, up to the Wasatch National Forest, through a place called Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Thunderheads are gathering in the distance, but the stream side temperatures were divinely cool.

We parked above this little waterfall.

Bernie headed upstream with his rod, while I headed downstream with my camera.
Let's see who gets the catch of the day!

They don't call it Cottonwood Canyon for nothing: the cottonwood trees are shedding huge cottony clump everywhere.

Pretty purple fleabane.
The sound and the darting dragonflies make the place marvelous to behold.

My new header shot.

A Darth Vader flower??

I found little fairy vignettes everywhere. There is a small green clad fairy figurine I am considering purchasing for a prop in these kind of shots.

Wonder what happened to him?
The wild roses smell wonderful.

Pink spires and pine spires...a fir tree color palate.

Another fairy grotto.

Tenacious wildflower blooming on a tiny island in the stream.

I think this is called monkey flower.

Reflections are great catches....

Sunshine back lighting lavender flowers...

The odd pod structure.....very Seussian.

A bird on a rock midstream. I wondered if he was a dipper...and would wade under the water. He didn't, but flew off instead.

Times when a tripod would have been nice. A slight sway of the breeze or my hand took the crystal focus away.

Funny how often there is a bug on a flower once you start noticing.

Add a flash...get a better look at the stamen.

Can't decide if it was out of focus or if it was just a soft velvety plant. It was pretty soft....

Things growing on rock interest me. How do they do it?

Bernie came downstream. He said he now remembers why fly fishing is a bit of work: he has already lost a couple of flies, tangled up, knotted his clippers and frozen his golf sandal clad feet.
This work is still FUN! And he keeps getting his cast back up to speed. After a twenty year respite from the sport a bit of a learning curve is to be expected.

This water is fresh off the snow clad mountains. He is wading in it basically barefooted.
So worth it!
Looking up at the cotton covered cottonwoods. I suppose the cotton would make great stuffing for pioneer pillows and mattresses. (We skipped the Pioneer Day activities. Way too hot for my sensibilities. Maybe we'll take it all in next years.)

Time to regroup. B. says he had a few nibbles. Good enough for a first time out.

We sit by the stream and enjoy the coolness and the sound of rushing water and birds.

I fish out an interesting rock from the stream.

A few feet from my chair is another fairy ground.

I'm happy. Tell me again: why on earth do I insist on doing mundane stuff like vacuuming and laundry on weekends instead of just heading up here?
More motivation to simplify my home!

While I photograph I usually look down and around. I looked up for a moment....

And saw this rising crescent moon.
Our cue to head back home as it was now almost nine at night.
(Amazingly I wore no bug spray and didn't get nipped even once, not even as darkness set in.)

At the base of the canyon the terrain is completely different.

And down there the evening shadows are just beginning to win over the day.