Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Hugs to all my Photo Challenge Friends!

Today is the last day of the November Photo a Day Challenge. It’s been fun, frustrating, exhausting, exhilarating and most of all educational.
Thank you all for playing. I have had such a great time getting to know you better through your photographs, blog entries, layouts and kind comments on my blog.

I was reading about snow globes on Mandy’s blog and it made me think. Okay, you know me by now; everything makes me think in the most unusual directions. But I was pondering why people love snow globes.
It occurred to me I personally love them, because I love the idea of a tidy, self contained world. But the downside of living inside a snow globe, of course, would be the random shaking followed by glittery storms.
It seems whoever has their hands on my snow globe knows just when I get to settled and comfortable and shakes things up a bit. I wish I was a steadfast as the tiny people inside all the snow globes I see displayed on shelves. But alas, the shaking leaves me dizzy most of the time.
Last night I practiced photographing the village under our Christmas tree. David’s grandmother had the most spectacular Christmas village, you know the kind that take up half the living room, and involves three weeks of setup. I don’t know if anyone ever took photographs of her complete set. She worked for years to collect it, and after she died the pieces went to various family members. We have one ceramic tavern from her collection under our tree.
We also have a collection hailing back to my mother’s fascination with tiny houses. She tells me she made her first collection of toy houses when she was about five and someone gave her a pack of construction paper. After my older sisters were born, she designed a spectacular playhouse for us, and commissioned a family friend to make small scale furniture.
After we were in school, Mom went back to work as a high school art teacher. By the time I was a teenager; we had a ceramic kiln in our garage, along with a collection of molds, paints and craft tables. The car sat outside. To darn bad about the 20 degrees below zero, the girls gotta craft!
One year we made ceramic cottages. I still have most of them under my tree. A few years ago Mom sent me some more tiny houses for our village. These were made out of plastic mesh, sewn together and decorated with yarn.
Last year I found a few more ceramic pieces at a bargain at the local five and dime, so three more houses were added to the town.
My village is sadly out of scale, the people tower over the doors, they couldn’t fit in with a shoehorn. But I’m afraid I have the tiny house bug. I love setting up the funky little village under the tree. I guess it entertains the little girl in my soul.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hats off to Christmas

My youngest son is really starting to get the hang of this photo a day business. This morning when I climbed out of bed, I opened the curtains, accessed the light and told him “go get the Santa hat and …”
“Your camera?” he filled in helpfully.
He obliged and was soon striking a pose for some delightful shots.
Alas, he’s the only one who still thinks the whole being photographed thing is fun. Even the cat is starting to give me the evil eye.
I’m quickly running out of live subjects, and may be forced, before the end of the month to take photographs of myself. Trust me; no one wants to see that!
But Adam’s Santa hat photos turned out so well, I’ve been thinking that for Christmas photos this year I would simply take individual portrait shots of every member of the family wearing the hat, for a four corner photo layout.
While I was waiting for everyone to get it together and go to school I played around with self portraits and the Santa hat. Humm, maybe I should wait until I am awake, wearing make-up and in candle light. This early morning light is for the birds or for very young children.

Monday, November 28, 2005

It’s cold here.
It’s bone chilling, teeth gritting, hairs freeze in your nostrils cold. I remember trudging to school on days like this, wearing skirts and tights, because girls were not allowed to wear slacks. Now I’m cheerfully sending my boys out in the mind numbing cold ~ and I’m doing it with a smile, because I have piles, and piles, and yes, more piles of work to do.
I don’t know if I hope my boss calls me to work today because I need the Christmas money, or I hope he doesn’t, because I need the time to muck out my house and get ready for the holidays.

Since my entry yesterday I’ve been thinking about memories. My sister commented on my blog last night that her youngest {bonus} daughter still has fond memories of our Thanksgiving football game, “{she} said the other day that we always played a football game on Thanksgiving when she was little.”
I have memories too, of things we “always” did as children too. I remember making gingerbread houses one year, and decorating sugar cookies many years. I remember the year the power went out on Christmas eve, and I remember the year I desperately wanted “Pebbles and Bam~Bam Dolls.” But being aware, at even that young age that Santa had a limited supply of cash and telling my father right before going to sleep that I would be okay with just getting “Pebbles.”
Of course, Santa brought both of them to me, and my sister put my hair up in a Pebbles ponytail, using the doll’s bone as a decoration.
I remember the elaborated Barbie doll house my mother made for my older sister, and I still marvel at her inventiveness. For example, she used Clorox bottles to make kitchen chairs.
I wonder what memories I am giving my children, if one joyful football game goes down in family legend. Will they treasure the contrived moments of visiting Santa and getting a token candy cane. Or will their minds linger on the happy accidents like days of making puppet shows and playing with trains.
I hope their memories will forgive me for emotional breakdowns while trying to untangle lights, and dwell instead on the glow of the fire and the taste of hot chocolate.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Thanksgiving is starting to grow on me

I woke up at 6 a.m. to the sound of a snow plow, complete with the flashing yellow light seeping through the blinds. They don’t plow the streets around here unless there really is snow, and sure enough, there was four to six inches on the ground. Let’s hear it for lake effect snow!
Mom, who is a big believer that “things happen for a reason,” told me when I called her and said the family wouldn’t be able to visit for Thanksgiving that there was probably a reason.
Now that it’s snowing, she’ll feel the flu bug was just God’s little way of keeping our family from traveling over the ice and drifting snow back from Grandmother’s house.
But in spite of the unfortunate beginning of this holiday, I’ve ended up having a good time. We went to “Harry Potter,” together, played in paper, put up the Christmas tree and right now the boys are setting up an elaborate railroad system under the tree with their Thomas the Tank Engine set.
They are both past the age of Thomas, but every year at Christmas time when we pull out the Christmas village, Tomas and friends come out to play, too. I guess it has become an unofficial tradition.

While this weekend did not go the way I wanted it too, it has been charming nevertheless.I’ve been thinking about Thanksgiving as a holiday.

When I was a child I didn’t quite get the whole Thanksgiving feast business. We didn’t have a lot of extended family to visit on Thanksgiving, my mother was an only child and my father had one brother who lived across the country and never visited. I think I’ve met him three times in my life. We lived next-door to my grandparents, so having them come for dinner wasn’t much of a novelty, and I wasn’t a fan of the traditional holiday fare.

But things began to change when my older sisters went away to college and came home for Thanksgiving.After many meals of meeting new family members-to-be and new babies, the holiday became a bit more interesting. It has only been in the past 12 years or so, sadly since the death of my Father, that I have truly learned to appreciate the family gathering aspect of the day.

I have three sisters, but for reasons I can’t precisely explain, two of them don’t usually attend these family get-togethers.

But my Wyoming sisters’ oldest children have grown, and her daughter has children of her own. My brother, sister, niece and I all have children the same age and it’s a grand gathering.

One of my fondest memories is of the Thanksgiving of 2001. Both nephews had returned home from missions, after not seeing each other for four years because the missions overlapped. The youngest had been scheduled to fly home from his mission in Washington D.C. on Sept. 12. His return was delayed a week because of the events of 9-11.

On this unforgettable Thanksgiving the weather was frosty, but not snowy. After the feasting the young men and women worked off a little energy with an impromptu game of football in the back yard. I get a little glow when I think of the 20-something men scooping up toddlers and running them across the line for a touchdown. I think they knew, even as they were playing, that the memory of the moment would linger for years to come.

I am so thankful I am able to give my children cousins, something I never had. I am so grateful for my family, for their creativity, sardonic humor, kindness to the children, and acceptance of each other.

Do we have warts, yes we do, and plenty of them. But at the heart we also have a grand, good time together.

As you can see, I went a little nuts with the photo of the day. We put up the Christmas tree yestersday and I tried something new {to me} I poked my camera into the tree in the general direction of photographs I wanted and started snapping. Many of them ended up in the trash bin. But I was really pleased with the majority of them.

So many ornaments on the tree have special meaning to me. The top one of the little girl bear was given to my by my DH on our first Christmas. The bear with the stars was given to us by my Mother in memory of our son who was born at 18 weeks and was unable to survive his extreme premature birth.

I have decided to continue making photographs of the ornaments and puting them togehter in a layout, or maybe even a book.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

It's beginning to look a lot like winter

We’ve been having a grand time this weekend, now that we are on the mend from our unfortunate tummy trouble.
I had planned to take a supply of paper and goodies up north so we could all make cards, but since this plan was derailed I sat down with my boys and handed them cards and bags to decorate. The decoration took a left turn when DS-6 decided he wanted to make sack puppets. We used monster-sized google eyes and the games began.
After making a supply of puppets, the boys started putting on puppet shows at 6, 8 at 9 p.m. daily. DS-6 was in charge of the performances while DS-11 made the scenery on a wipe board. The plot involved tornados, earthquakes, volcanoes and wild tigers. They are boys, after all.
My DS-ll decided the puppets needed a puppetratzzi, so he made a D-rebel for his puppet.
Meanwhile, David was upstairs trying to put the Christmas tree together and discovering that after eight years of service, it just wasn’t going to hold up anymore. So we made a midnight run to Walmart to pick up a new tree.
Good thing, too, because this morning we had about two inches of snow on the ground. So today’s activities will include decorating the Christmas tree, watching puppet shows, and playing in the snow.
It’s beginning to look a lot like winter.

Friday, November 25, 2005

No Turkey for You!

Ah yes, Thanksgiving 2005 was a memorable occasion at our house. We dined on crushed ice flavored ever so slightly with anti-acids and anti-diarrhea medicine. We gathered together, huddled under blanket is mutual misery, stomachs cramping as we watched our plans to eat turkey and stuffing in the company of extended family was literally flushed down the drain.
That was our holiday.
How was yours?
So today I am thankful that the bug is passed, we still have turkey in the refrigerator and although we won’t be going north to visit my mother, sister, brother and all their offspring, we will be eating turkey, one day late.
Let’s hope our battered systems can handle it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky

I am fascinated by the remnants of an old military depot in our community. The World War II buildings hearken back to a different time. It was a time when America was at war, but united against their enemy.
The buildings are large, simple and utilitarian. Now the abandoned complex is slowly returning back to the desert from whence it sprung.
As I drive around the area I can see what was once a bustling complex of warehouses. Rusting train tracks dissect the structure with military precision. Now they are unused, the warning signs broken and wobbling like ghostly arms.
Polished boots once marched with purpose and dedication on the pavement, where now weeds poke their heads through the pavement with impunity. A cool autumn wind stirs bits of trash and whistles faintly around the buildings set close together as regimented as the servicemen who once worked here.
As I drive through the compound, now turned over to civilian duty as an industrial park, I think of the scripture about weapons being pounded into plows. Lyrics from the song “Dust in the Wind,” by Kansas echo in my mind: “Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky.”
In some strange way I cannot explain, my soul is refreshed by the barren loneliness of this location. At night, the base is shadowed and creepy. But now, in the light of day, with the expanse of blue sky above me and the desert rolling away around me, I feel myself connected to the earth and sky, feeling the eternal nature of my spirit.

Monday, November 21, 2005

My furry female friend

Katie Cat has been with our family a little more than a year now, and she has certainly made her presence known. She came to us as a kitten of about two months and has grown into a remarkably beautiful cat. Her mother was a Persian of questionable moral standards because we are not really sure who her father is. But we are assuming, based on her markings, that he was a Siamese Tom.
When female house cats were classified as “queens” they must have been thinking of the likes of Katie. Regal in her habits and bearing, she keeps herself clean, uses the litter box if she has to but much prefers going outside, and will only eat one {pricy} brand of dry cat foot. Oh yes, she has also been known to eat bugs in abundance.
She is an excellent hunter, alas, and loves to bring the still breathing, often still flying birds into our basement to finish off the kill.
She has a purr that could wake the dead, and purrs her thanks whenever she is let in and out of the house {constantly} is given new food, new water or when any of her subjects please her in any other way.
But she does not like to be picked up or cuddled, thank you very much.
We get along just fine, Katie and I. She is a good little companion, and not a particularly demanding one.
She has David completely wrapped around her tail. He think’s she is funny. So he will get out of his favorite chair if Katie wishes to sit in it.
Logan wishes desperately to have a cuddly kitty, and Katie ain’t it. Adam, on the other hand, just takes it all in stride.
It’s good to have another female in the house, even if she has four legs and fur.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Great Excavation of 2005

I could have spent my weekend scrapbooking, Christmas shopping, or even going to the new Harry Potter movie. But no, I found myself digging through boxes, papers and fabric in what has come to be known as the “scary closet.”
Actually, it’s only one of several such scary closets in the house, and easily the worst. It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for my obsession with crafts and boxes. When I opened the closet yesterday I realized that although I am a big fan of saving the “good boxes,” too many good boxes can be a bad thing.
I have also rediscovered the joy of the tote.
I’ve been storing all my Halloween costumes, Easter baskets, and fabric scraps in cardboard boxes. The downside of this is I can’t see inside of the boxes and the boxes themselves look, well, tacky.
Over the last two years I have become friends with Jessica, who could easily pass as “Queen of the Totes.” The woman weights maybe 103 pounds soaking wet, but she can throw around totes the size of Volkswagens, like a truck driver. Her world is Organized! Last year, inspired by Jessica’s tidy storage area, I invested in totes for my Christmas ornaments, lights, etc. This year the totes moved into my closet.
It’s amazing how four totes, one for holidays, another for crafts, a third for sewing and fabric and a fourth for all things scrap related, has cleared up the space under the stairs. I have had a storage container for my wrapping paper for a few years, and I put the gift wrap bows in another, tossed (most) of the boxes, and yehaw! My closet is clean and organized.
Now I have to tackle the coat closet, the pantry and *gulp* the children’s toy closet.

While these photos of the day are not technically interesting, they signify a great accomplishment to me, conquering the scary closet.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

An uphill battle and the winds of change

When we moved to our little town in the summer of 2001 the little park in the center of town was looking a little run down. We were in the middle of a drought, so the grass was brown. It looked more like a vacant lot than a park.
In May of this year after a few months of renovation they re-dedicated the park as a Veterans Memorial Park. The sad grass had been replaced with new sod, a half circle monument dedicated to veterans, ringed with flags stood against what had been a bare wall, comfortable benches were places in places to make the park both more practical and aesthetically pleasing.
Small improvements have been added throughout the summer.
This week workers were busy in the park building pergolas, putting the finishing touches on the park.
We’ve been watching the improvements with interest. It is amazing how an investment of time and money can take something so ordinary and turn it into a little gem in the middle of town.
Of course City Fathers hope the improvements in the park will spread to neighborhood building, revitalizing downtown. They are fighting an uphill battle. But I hope they succeed. I want to live in a place where charming shops thrive, instead of a community where downtown is just a few vacant buildings on the way to the big box stores.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Time to trim the town tree

Adam is home sick again. Apparently he really IS sick. He had a fever, and, as he tells anyone who will listen to him “I had a rough night.” Apparently he’s quoting Daddy.
So, I am posting a photo from earlier this week that I saved for just this type of occasion.
Workers in our little town are putting together the Christmas tree in the town square. I don’t know that the photo is technically interesting, but it does tell the story of small town America and the quest to combine “It’s a Wonderful Life,” with “Greed,” into a seamless whole.
Although we are fairly isolated in a spot nestled against a mountain, our town is about 45 minutes from a major metropolitan area. If you want to do any serious shopping, you usually take I-80 and head for the city.
This does not please business owners in our community, who are trying to make a living against an increasingly competitive market.
Their answer is a quest to make our town a Norman Rockwell painting come to life. Setting up the Christmas tree in time for a Thanksgiving lighting ceremony is crucial for this goal.
So this week city crews have been putting the finishing touches on the Memorial Park (pictures about that tomorrow) and building the tree to set the stage for shopping.

The story I wrote about scrapbooking is not up on the web yet, and I’m not sure I even know how to post a link, but here’s the address Most of the pages they picked were from the Tia free range dare challenges.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

One subject, three shots

Last night while my 11-year-old was making a magnet from a battery for a school project I played around with angles. I wasn’t really happy with the first two, but the last one, yes! I knew I had it as I snapped it. Is anyone else having this kind of “eureka” experience with their photography lately?
The experiment is just a further example of this child’s fascination with all things scientific. In this way he reminds me of my little brother. When he was about this age he started building rockets and shooting them off in the backyard. His room was littered with copper wire, and toilet paper rolls and other unidentifiable objects of rocket construction.
I spent most of the day yesterday interviewing and writing a story for my newspaper about scrapbooking. It was a really odd experience because I knew more about the subject than most of the people I interviewed. The paper used some of my layouts and layouts of a dear friend of mine (who I also interviewed) as art for the page. So in a sense you could say I’ve now officially published my layouts, but in a rather odd way.
I don’t know which layouts they picked. I directed them to my gallery in and told them to pick what they wanted, with the exception of the “Driving Gloves” layout I made for a friend for her Christmas present. I didn’t want her to see it in the newspaper before she received the gift.
Tomorrow I’ll post a link to the page and story for anyone who is interested.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Greetings from Camp Livingroom

Monday night as the wind was shredding leaves of the trees and icy rain was pelting against the windows, my 6-year-old son said. “Can we go camping?”
Why, I wondered, would he want to go camping? Then I realized the sleeping bag, used by my brothers-in-law while they were visiting over the weekend, was still on the sofa.
“It’s kind of cold for camping?” I reasoned.
But my every inventive husband suggested a compromise. So now we have a tent in the living room.
Adam slept there last night and extracted a promise from me this morning that we will keep the tent up until Friday. Camp Livingroom is flourishing, Adam is anxious to go to bed early, and hey, what’s another toy on the floor, he’s only young once.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Random ramblings on winter

It is bitter cold outside. I was hoping to be able to take photographs of snow today, but I guess it is too cold to snow. My youngest son is complaining of a sore throat so he’s home with me today. I never know if he is really sick or not. Last week he said he had a stomach ache, but when I told him he had to stay in bed and not watch television, he had a miraculous recovery and was soon on his way to school.
But I tend to believe him about the sore throat, because I had a sore throat yesterday. I hate it when my kids are sick, and “half sick” isn’t much better, because they get bored and want me to entertain them all day, when I ~ as always ~ have plenty of things clamoring for my attention.
The good news is I managed to pay the bills and do the grocery shopping yesterday, so I don’t have to leave the house. But I was hoping to go on a little photographing walk later today.
Last night we bought turkey and took it to the local smokehouse to have the meat smoked. The results are delicious. While we were out, I noticed the moon flitting and out of the clouds and tried to take a photograph of it. I don’t know that I was very successful.
We plan to spend the holiday with the family in Wyoming. If everyone who plans to attend makes it over all the mountain passes we will have five families and more than 20 people in attendance. Ten of them will be children ages 13 and under. I can’t wait to take photographs of everyone.
Another fun tradition in my small home town in Wyoming is the Light Parade. Basically, everyone who has a working vehicle and any interest in advertising their business wraps it with Christmas lights and drives it down Main Street. The event happens at night, the better to see the whole effect, and it is usually either freezing, or snowing, or both.
Since we had no snow this morning, I am including another photo I took earlier this month of my range, with candles and my Tea Cattle. I love the colors black and white together. So this year when we needed to buy a new oven, I chose this sleek black one because I like the range top and the retro look of it.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Evening shade

So much of wintertime is spent in darkness. As the nights grow longer I find myself wanting to hibernate, curl up in my house with a roaring fire and a good book, safe and warm.
When I lived in southern Utah the nights were long, but the days were sunny. I did not find myself slipping into torpor as I do here in northern Utah, or as I did in southern Wyoming where I spent my childhood.
I was talking to my sister last night about my natural inclination to be introverted. It becomes more pronounced in the fall and winter when I get the nesting, hibernating instinct.
I suppose this is one reason why we celebrate Christmas. It is an opportunity to think outside of ourselves. It is a chance to gather and be jolly. It is a celebration of joy in the face of deepening gloom.
The Photo a Day challenge is also forcing me to go outside. Last night I played around with my tripod and light. I took these photos on my deck just as dusk was falling. I wanted to go from a new perspective, from the outside looking in, as it were, instead of the usual from the inside looking out on fall.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

This is the chore that never ends...

Truth to tell, I didn’t take this photo today. But I could have. Today, yesterday, tomorrow, it’s all the same; I have loads and loads of laundry.
Back in my single girl days I spend 2 to 4 hours a week in a Laundromat watching my dainties fluff while I folded my jeans. The good news was I brought home one (count it, one!) laundry basket with all my clothes washed, folded and ready to take me through the week. The bad news is I spend 2 to 4 hours in a Laundromat. Bleck!
I fantasized about the day I would have my own washer. I could wash just one sock if I wanted too. I wouldn’t have to worry about discovering late at night that the blue skirt that matched my sweater was dirty, I could just go wash it.
Little did I know.
Now the hum of the dryer is just part of my regular household music, occasionally interrupted by a very rude bell telling me it’s time to get of my behind and start folding, buster.
But still, I do love having the washer and dryer in my home. I also love having my own little room for my laundry duties instead of a closet in the hall or off the kitchen as I have in the past.
But, it doesn’t matter how convenient the job is. The job always is, never going away, never really difficult, just omnipresent.
Ooops, gotta run, the buzzer just sounded.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Cloudy, rainy, fall day ~ I think I'll go scrap pages

It's a drizzly, gray Saturday. The school playground looks a little dismal all wet and abandoned. But our home is warm and cozy. It's a perfect day for reading, watching romantic movies or scrapping. To bad I haven't figured out a way to do all three at once.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Bittersweet memorial

Veterans Day is, to me, the definition of bittersweet. The day is usually dark and gray, but the streets are lined with splashes of color, the Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, the Red, White and Blue, the American Flag.
Today my son, as a member of the Boy Scouts of America left the house at 6 a.m. to post flags throughout the neighborhood. It was his first time providing this service, and he was so excited, pleased and proud to do so. He has always loved the flag.
Twelve years ago, the day after Veterans Day, my father, himself a veteran of World War II died. His large, gentle heart, which had carried him into countless battles, and years thereafter of marching in parades, doffing his hat and bowing his head at the sign of the American flag, finally, simply, burst.
On that same day, 12 years ago, I sent out my wedding announcements. My father was promised in a blessing he would live to see his “children married and his grandchildren grown.” I was the last of his five children to tie the knot.
There are no words to express my feelings for this great man, my father, my hero. My father came from humble stock. The son of a Danish immigrant and an Idaho farm girl, he lost his own father at the age of eight during the depression. From that point on he was a man. He helped support his mother and his younger brother. When the time came to go to war, he went.
I know little about those years of war, but I do have as one of my prized possessions his Purple Heart, given to me by his own hands because I told him I would like to have it.
He raised a family of five, seeing to it that we all got a college education even though he had to cut his education short by one year so he could go to work and support his wife and baby daughter.
He served his church, coming home after a hard day hauling hay to wash up and spend evenings in meetings. He served the community as a city councilman and president of the Farm Bureau. He served in the Veterans of Foreign Wars, donning his uniform on weekends to provide the military salute at funerals.
He served, and loved, and we will always love him for his service.
So when I see a bright red, white and blue flag against a dark sky I feel pride, humility, and the lose of one great man, who will live forever in the hearts of his children.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I’m cheating slightly on the photo a day challenge and using a shot I took yesterday of Adam reading. Among the gifts in my life is the ability to read and having children who are well on the way to loving books as much as I do.
Books are one of those things I share with everyone in my family. We all have similar interests, and we are voracious readers. I remember as a child watching my sister fall asleep in bed with a book in her hand. As she woke up the next morning, the book was still there and she picked up where she left off, without missing a beat. She is now a media specialist in an elementary school library. Her daughter is a children’s librarian in a small community in Utah, and my love of the written word has taken a different track, in that I love to write, too.
My husband also reads constantly. As an elementary school teacher he has introduced me to a number of really interesting books. Now my oldest son is reading the same books. So at family gatherings my sister, husband, adult nieces, son and 13-year-old nephew can carry on lively conversations about the same book, because we are all reading the same book.
I am so happy to see Adam picking up the bug. I wondered if he would catch on as well as Logan, but the truth is, he is a better reader than his brother was at his age. Part of that was the blessing of an absolutely genius kindergarten teacher. He begs us to read him stories at night and he enjoys showing off his skills with the written word. Watching a child learn to read is magical. I am so blessed to be able to see this magic unfold in my children’s’ lives.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Why I vote

The original plan for today’s Photo of the Day was a shot of my computer in the wake of election coverage. Elections have become part of my psyche; I have spent countless hours in city council meetings, and school board meetings. I am well versed on the November Tuesday ritual of hanging around a utilitarian public building waiting for election judges to come out of a separate room with a verdict. The first year I voted, was also the first year I covered a national election. In my teen years I helped my father run and win a city council seat and helped with my neighbor’s successful campaign for sheriff. He later became the U.S. Marshall of Wyoming and is now serving on the Wyoming state legislator.
My World War II veteran father taught me that voting and serving on local governing bodies and keeping up with political events was both a privilege and a duty.
I don’t know that this background guided me on my path to be a journalist, but it has certainly influenced my sense of the importance of seemingly unimportant moments in dingy council rooms.
As a result, on one Tuesday in November each year I join in the ritual, gather the results, burn the midnight oil eating pizza and swilling soda so I can let a largely indifferent public know the democratic process is still working.
That was my original plan, and this messy desk is my proof of last night’s work.
But, this morning during the ritual cuddles with my sons, the light was beautiful and I was able to snap these photos of my beautiful children. This photo was so much more interesting than the shot of my messy desk.
Then it occurred to me how these two apparently incompatible subjects dovetail. Were it not for the boring nights of volunteers deciding how much money should be spent on road improvement and the freedom to decide, via elections, rather or not to fluoridate the water, my sons would not be living in this free world.
And, the time may come when I may have to watch my sons, grown up to become men, don the uniform of the U.S. military and go to war to protect this freedom ether for our country or for someone else’s children.
I do not want to send my children to war. I do not want to lose the right to say rather or not I want the government putting florid in my water. So on one Tuesday in November I give up a few minutes to vote, and a few hours of sleep to cover the elections. It seems a pretty small price to pay.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I've been playing in my photoshop. I think I like this version better.

Just a quick, and not necessarily well-made snap of Adam shivering in the cold air after his morning shower. You would think by my Photos of the Day that I only had one son, but the 11 year old is not very willing to be photographed. It's going to be a busy day today, what with elections and all.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Save the boxes!

I believe my love of purdy paper came from my earliest excitement over brightly wrapped gifts, and a family tradition of wrapping gifts together.
I am one of five children, the fourth girl, followed by the one and only boy. My Mom is a perfectionist, an artist, and ultimately very practical.
Every year at Christmas she found herself surrounded by gifts needing to be wrapped and a house full of girls climbing the walls with excitement over the holidays.
So she started the Thanksgiving night of gift wrapping.
After we had eaten our fill of turkey, cleaned the kitchen and taken naps we were anxious for something to do. So she brought out our Christmas gifts, all packed in boxes labeled with a name on it, and had us start wrapping them.
I thought the process of wrapping gifts was sheer bliss. Sometimes I even got to pick out the paper and wrap my own present without even knowing what was inside.
We developed something of a system. The expensive foil paper was saved for the tiny gifts so it would go further. The unattractive paper was wrapped around big gifts, in hopes of getting rid of it quickly.
Mom taught us the proper gift wrapping corners. We did it correctly, or we ended up holding the paper while someone else did the taping. You can see this perfection on my scrapbook pages, even now.
You can see this pecking order for the prettiest scrapping paper, too. I horde the expensive, patterned paper for my “special” photos and use paper from Provo Craft Slab on my snapshot and events pages.
Another carry-over from the Christmas gift wrapping tradition is I never throw away a “good box.” Neither does anyone else in my family. Thus when we get a gift from my sister wrapped in a Schwan’s “bagel dog” box we know (a) it isn’t bagel dogs, and (b) I will be saving the box to send something to my brother in it next year.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this tradition is seeing how a simple decision on my Mother’s part to expedite the chore of wrapping gifts has sent a ripple effect through my life.
Now, every year when the family gets together for Thanksgiving someone brings a craft we can do together. One year my niece introduced us all to soap making. I loved it, and everyone in my circle of friends received hand-made soap for the holidays that year.
Another year my school teacher husband showed the children how to “mummify Barbie dolls.” It was an odd craft, but the kids loved it.
We have learned origami, painted Christmas tree ornaments, and made picture books for a church humanitarian project.
Since I have decided to add a line about gratitude each day in my November blog, today I am grateful for my family tradition of gathering together to make something beautiful. This tradition has enriched my life beyond all understanding.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Small miracles

I don’t usually bring my camera to church with me. I bring my children, my scriptures, graph paper, pencils, even snacks and toys. But my camera stays home.
But, as I am currently participating in a “Photo a Day in November” exercise with several scrapbook buddies around the world, via the internet, I decided to take the camera today.
Adam was assigned a talk in Primary and I figured out the shot in advance. (Primary is the educational program for the children in the LDS Church, rather like Sunday school.) We would arrive early (we usually do) and I would take a picture of him sitting on the “hot seats” in front of the other children waiting for his chance to talk.
I took the photo. He gave the talk, all was well.
Then I settled into my meeting and my friend, a member of a group of buddies who call ourselves the “Ya Ya Scrappers” sidled up to me and asked if there was any chance I could go home and get my camera. She was blessing her baby today and wanted photographs to capture the moment. Not only was she, her husband and their three children in attendance, but she also expected grand parents and great-grandparents on both sides of the family.
We were both tickled when I said, “I have it right here,” and pulled it out of my bag. The results were charming.
I kind of consider my being there to take the photos something of a little miracle. But then, I am a true believer.
This is the shot I wanted to get, but I ended up with so much more.