Friday, September 27, 2013

Autumn 2013: Was four days enough?

When was the first day of Autumn again?
Last Sunday, wasn't it?
And when is the first day of Winter supposed to be?
Sometime in late December if I recall correctly.
Ah shucks.
What does the calendar know?
Wednesday I got wind of the fact that it was snowing up at Solitude.
I looked at the skies and decided I needed to go check out that report first hand.
I drove up Big Cottonwood canyon, rain spritzing my windshield as I wound through the canyon.
And then...
The rain turned white.

Only a few of the aspens had is, after all, still early autumn.
The early bird colored bits looked glorious in against the white.

Misty, foggy snow...
Everything looked slightly surreal.

How is it that snow so magical that it can make even dead trees look artistic?
I took very few photos as I was reluctant to pull over in the foggy low visibility snow.
I turned on my emergency lights when I did pull over for extra safety.
Wish I had remembered to turn them off when I got home.
Thursday I spent car-less; my three year old car battery went dead over night.
It took until Friday for the local car shop to come bring me a new battery, since I was flying solo this week and Bernie had our other car parked at the airport.
(Isn't that the way it always seems to go when husbands go out of town AND leave you with just one car?)

Friday (today!) I got a big pot of baked potato soup going in the crock pot.
(Earlier  in the week I had made two gallons of turkey soup...crisp fall weather just makes me want to make soup!)
Got all caught up on my "to do" list.
Watched the mountains tops get covered with fog, then watched as they showed themselves again dusted with snow.
Wonder if Millcreek, my "walking distance" canyon was getting snow.
As soon as my new battery was installed I grabbed my camera and drove over to Millcreek to see what was going on.
The first half of the 8 mile long canyon had moderate amounts of color.

Enough to make me get clicking away.

Porter Forks colliding rivers was being nicely framed with colorful leaves.

(Someday...soon...I will be renting a wide angle lens so I can finally take a full shot of this lovely spot.  It will be well worth it to pay $25 for a day's worth of wide angle pictures of my favorite scenes.  It will be a test drive: I am pretty sure I want to own one, but the purchase price sticker shock is enough to make me want to test before cutting a check.)

Millcreek in autumn is so outstanding.
Some fine day I really ought to walk the whole 8 miles so I can photograph every bit of it.

Right above this scene....

Snow had fallen on the high peaks.

Where I stood it was getting light rain, which is just lovely to bring out the color of fall leaves.

When I looked up, it looked like fall was fleeing from winter,

Three season scenes:
The deep greens of summer
The multi colors of autumn
The white of winter.
All in one view.

Fall comes down from the mountain.
In this case, I think fall was doing a line dance
Or playing a round of follow the leader!
I really like this shot...autumn dancing down the  hillside.

Across from the line dance, the rain fell on me, with occasional bit of slush hitting me.
The polka dotted leaves: speckled, freckled fun.
I drove on...until the rain dotting my windshield turned to mush.

At the very top of Millcreek snow was covering the ground.

The funny thing about this scene is that each year I run up the canyon to see if the aspen has changed yet.
I swear the trees change  and drop their leaves in one day...the day that I miss coming.
This year I caught the colors on the trees, but the colors are covered with snow.
That's pretty nice too.

Do you see a circle dance in the mountain side aspen groves?
I do.... 

At the very top of the canyon there is a parking lot.
From the lot one can access several trailheads.
The getting the split rail fence into a photo without cars is tricky.
I can't blame folks for wanting to park where they can sit and stare at the woods.
For a moment I had a clear shot without cars. As I positioned myself for the perfect shot, a woman wheeled her car into the center of the shot.
There were plenty of other places to park, so I went up and asked if she would mind backing up into another parking place.
She totally understood and was happy to oblige.


Last week I spent many hours going through all my digital autumn related photographs.
After selecting 890 of them (the "best of the best"!) I created a chip to use on our large digital photo frame.
It is so nice to have one of the beautiful autumn scenes I have enjoyed over the past eight years slipping onto the screen every five seconds.
We've connected the chip with our large television screen too.
Seeing the scenes in 24" by 36" sizes is amazing.
It took a long time to create the chip; happily I can add to it with some of these pictures too.
Eventually I want to do a "Winter Scene" chip, a "Christmas Season" chip, a "Vacations" chip, a "Flowers and Plants" chip, a "Fishing Trip" chip (for Bernie) and a "Family" chip...a whole library of chips are planned.
I am glad chips are so inexpensive now that such a plan is reasonable.
With the way Autumn makes me want to take so many pictures, it isn't out of the question to think that there eventually will be an Autumn vol. 1 and vol. 2 chips.
Can't ever get enough of autumn!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sing! Dance! Rejoice!

Today is a special day for some, a day called Simcha Torah.
Until about ten years ago, I had no idea what "Simchat Torah" might possibly be.
It showed up on a few calendars; no explanations were ever given and my usual curiosity failed me completely.
I never bothered to look it up or find out what it was all about.
 Then I made friends with folks that celebrated Simchat Torah (Rejoicing of the Torah), and was invited to a Simchat Torah event.
Oh how blessed was I!
The picture above is what it is all about for me:
The very last passage in the Bible.
For my Jewish friends it is the last passage in the Torah, or what we Christians call the Old Testament.
For Christians, it would be the last passage in the New Testament.
The Jewish population reads through the Torah in one year, each year.
They begin their new year of reading after a seven day holiday called Sukkot, during which time they are to live in temporary shelters outside with roofs that are open enough to see the stars at night.
Sukkot is right after Yom Kippur, the day of atonement when Jewish people fast and are to renounce sin and get their acts together, to express it in a modern phrase.
Imagine what it must mean to a community for everyone to take a full day to fast and pray and get their lives back on track spiritually.
Then imagine what it mean if everyone then basically went on week long campout together, a retreat, with everyone living in temporary huts, eating together, visiting and being able to see each other's faces for a full week.
Bonding time.
Sharing time.
Get real time.
(Anyone who has ever gone to a camp understands how connected one feels with one's fellow campers. It just happens!)
 While all that is going on, the community continues to do their daily scripture readings...

Until they come to the last scripture passage.
Everyone gets together again for that last reading.
Special groups are called forward to read passages.
The time I participated in Simcha Torah, the groups were little kids, teens, newest married couple, oldest married couple, oldest member of the congregation.
Little kids carried toy plush Torah roll cute!
Between the reading of the verses leading up to the final verse of scripture,  everyone sang with gusto, danced in a circle around the room, and cheered loudly.
When the final verse was read you would have thought the BEST thing in the world had happened.
The singing, the dancing: it was rock out city!
And then...
what really blew my mind...
They told me why they were partying.
Not because they had completed the reading for the year.
Oh no.
It was
Can you imagine that?
Of course the Jewish people treasure their Scriptures.
A baby is introduced to Scriptures early, with their finger being touched to the first letter of the Scriptures
"In the Beginning..."
and that first letter of the first word has a drop of honey on it.
The baby touches it, and then the finger goes in the baby's mouth.
The scriptures...are good!
Sweet even!
In worship services when the velvet encased Torah scrolls are brought out of a special cabinet, the scrolls are walked through the congregation.
People reach out and touch the velvet covering, then touch their fingers to their own lips.
So sweet.
Sometimes I feel bummed out that in Christian services the Word is chucked into the racks in the back of pews, and flashed up on the wall via a powerpoint slide.
I get it...the Word is made available to everyone this way.
But the specialness of the Scripture is lost.
In traditional church worship services the Bible is read through, "Reading from the Old Testament" followed by "Reading from the New Testament", usually in a three year cycle.
Occasionally there is a push to get the congregation to read through the whole New Testament during Lent or Advent.
Celebration for the whole reading of the Word?
Never seen it happen.
Until I saw a Simcha Torah.
Now it is a celebration I wish all Bible believing groups would embrace!
(See one Messianic congregation celebrating here:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Autumn: Decorating and such....

The calendar says it is autumn so up goes my "Autumn Welcome" sign.
This is meant as a hint that I really would appreciate it if Autumn would come and kick back with us instead of playing chase/tag games with summer; a game that results in temperature variations going from
 whew it is hot/turn on the a/c!
where are my slippers/turn on the heat!

This year I reverted to using my fake squashes and gourds from my Houston years where the heat of autumn made cooked pumpkin out of real pumpkins left on the porch.
I quickly learned that having real pumpkins outside in Houston was out of the question.
I've learned that the sudden freezes in SLC likewise make mush of pumpkins.
The fake stuff looks great from the street and no goopy frozen pumpkin mess to worry about.
Five years here...I've finally given in to the reality of local freezing autumn weather and am willing to go fake pumpkins again.

Inside decoration is minimal for now.
I add more later, for Thanksgiving, and I plan to make a real leaf garland when the fall leaf colors get rolling here.
Minimalistic is fine for now, at least in my humble opinion.

Some folks of course have other opinions on the subject.
An orange cat sprawled on the mantel does add a certain flair...
The exact placement of said cat is a matter of trial and error.

Looking out the window:
Looking straight ahead:
Obviously sending a message about the state of his food dish.

Looking up at the ceiling:
He is playing mind games with us, trying to make us look up at the ceiling too.
It always works...

Seriously...the food dish is empty.
And I need some Greenies too.

Doesn't matter where one goes in the room, one feels like someone is watching every move.
Kinda spooky really.

Back outside, the mums from precious years came back nicely and recently even more were added to the flower bed.
I'll buy a few more yellow and orange pansies to fill in around the mums.
Then I will tuck in some glass jars
for holding tea candles which look so pretty lit up when we are expecting evening company. 

Saturday night we had our family feud football rivalry game:
San Diego State vs. Oregon State.
SDSU grad Jeff came with his family.
Bernie and I both attended SDSU but we are loyal to OSU where I finally got my degree.
The next door neighbor went to SDSU too, so he came with his 3 year old while his wife stayed uncomfortably at home.
(She is giving birth to their second child today...I was happy she could rest up instead of partying with us.)
I was so happy to have little Anne and Luke scamper about during the game, throwing the arms up for touch downs and throwing arms out for first downs, while we ate "football grub".
The table full of dips and carnitas and cookies and...and...and...
you know what I am talking about!
Autumn food.
Besides the lure of soup and stew and bread making there is also the abundance of fruit growing in our neighborhood.
I take walks and with permission, help myself to the bounty.

Tree ripened pears.
Oh yum!
Are you glad of Autumns arrival too?
We sure are!
Happy Autumn everyone!