Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What would it be like to live here. . . Castle Valley Outdoors

My Uncle Glendon passed away this fall.  He was loving, generous and so good to us as his extended family.  I haven't been able to write about his funeral yet--I will, but not yet.

My sister-in-law Brodi wrote a really beautiful account of his funeral that made me cry--here's the link.

Here, I am going to write about something he created in the high desert plateau of central Utah--in Emery County, Utah to be exact. It might just be my favorite place on earth and we have been able to spend our Thanksgiving there for years and years. This Thanksgiving I was extra grateful to him for allowing us to be part of his family.

















You can get to Castle Valley Ranch from I-70,

















from the Moore Cutoff Road (this is a nice little drafty cottage),

















and from Utah State Highway 10 that goes from Price to Emery--my favorite highway in the world and I have to drive it in the daylight. If I don't get to see the scenery in the light I get a little cranky. This is a must because when I drive out of Spanish Fork Canyon and turn on to Highway 10 the sky opens up and I feel free! With only 8 inches of precipitation a year it is incredibly dry but the flip side of that it is also ecstatically sunny!


















Here is a long view of Castle Valley Outdoors--Castle Valley Lodge on right, Muddy Creek Lodge in the middle and Pioneer House on the left (hidden by trees).



 Views, view everywhere

 Camaraderie in the cold

 Sparse and hardy vegetation


There is fish in that thar pond!




Fire pit for s'mores



 Seriously, someone in our family left gasoline out--just so my son's eyebrows could almost get singed off.

Breakfast view



Windy walk around the lake

 Sunset on the fields

 Sunset on the plateau

















Time to go home. I hate to go back home.

Thank you Uncle Glendon for a life well lived and great memories we all treasure.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cheers to people who. . .


Sometimes I get tired. This may be proved by my lack of blogging, lack of cleaning, lack of gumption and today by my lack of mascara.

When I'm tired I like to try and be inspired--on my walks here are some things that inspired me.

People who plant grasses and let them be. . .

People who put swings over sidewalks. . .

and people who don't rake their leaves. . .


Goodonya people!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

What if I lived here. . .

One of the main reason I like to write stories is that I like to imagine what life is like in different settings with different people. I can't pass a house for sale or even rent without wondering what would it be like to live there. I can see possibilities in grand mansions and little apartments. So the other day I drove through the avenues and I saw this house.




















When I was little and lived just a few blocks away I loved to walk by this house. I think it was yellow back then and I imagined that this was a good witch's house. There are a lot of witchy houses in the avenues, one in particular I would cross the street to avoid. I'll post a picture of that later. It was black with turrets and I thought it was very scary (now it's baby blue and really well maintained--disappointingly un-scary!).

Send a picture if you have a "What if I lived here house too."

Ode to Fall













Last week I realized that I was dreading winter so much that I was not enjoying a truly beautiful fall. Fall is probably my favorite season--especially this fall.  It has been warm and the leaves have taken their time changing.

I immediately repented of neglecting fall and decided to take walks at my lunch hour.

I love kicking the dry, crunchy leaves,



remembering sunflowers,
























and sun bleached grasses. .

This is your brain--No, this is your brain on drugs!









Maybe it's because this building is in Vegas, or maybe it is because I've read too many post apocalyptic and dystopian society books lately, but does this look like a building or the aftermath of some catastrophe.

Maybe this angle is better,

















or this one,


maybe here,

















Nope--still disturbing. It makes my heart palpitate a bit just to look at the pictures!

Are you wondering what this building houses--something like a casino, a trendy restaurant, or maybe art, well, you would be wrong because this is a brain institute--a brain institute.  It is the Cleveland Clinic and The Lou Ruvo Brain Institute in Las Vegas.


The clinic has incredible goals:
". . . the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute, have collaborated to create a highly specialized clinical center to advance the research, early detection and treatment of neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
The goal of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is to prevent the disabling symptoms of chronic brain diseases and to prolong healthy, vital aging in people at risk for dementia or cognitive disorders." 
Hopefully the quirky nature of the building helps raise awareness. Go brain team!


I am actually a fan of Frank Gehry--I think his architecture is interesting, fun and thought provoking. With the brain institute he definitely succeeded on the thought provoking!

Here are some Gehry buildings I love:

Disney Concert Hall in California


















Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain












and look at the amazing Star Wood Hotel in Spain
















But a brain institute--that looks like a very, very disturbed brain--is well, disturbing!


Hopefully those goals are achieved--and people can actually think in there.





Wednesday, November 9, 2011

There's No Place Like Vegas!

As you already know two of my daughters and I went to Vegas last weekend for the Vegas Valley Book Festival. It was an eye opener for me, because the Festival was downtown--which is so much different from the Strip. I can sum up what we saw in one word --kitsch! Kitsch, kitsch everywhere--there is nothing more beautiful than kitsch against a bright blue sky.






















Where else in the world can you see a red pumps floating in the sky that have the added benefit of glowing at night.


Or,  star spangled bikini women against a backdrop of a patriotic parking garage.


Or, bare bones casinos that advertise everything they've got.  Coffee Shop--CHECK, Bar--CHECK, Gambling--CHECK, and what else, Free Parking of course.

We ate at The Beat coffee house. The food was okay, but the atmosphere was very hip. My husband would have loved their record collection.


We also ventured out of downtown and off the Strip to the Komex restaurant for dinner. Yes, you know Komex food, it's everywhere. Everyone loves their Korean Mexican fusion restaurants. We all had the Bulgogi Burrito which is a type of Korean Barbecue style meat (in our case beef) in a classic Mexican style burrito.  It was super yum--on my scale of yum, super yum is the yummiest. I wish I had been brave enough to order the kim chee with it.


Every restaurant has to have Chinese placemats with their chips, salsa and guacamole.


Vegas makes multicultural work baby!!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Vegas Valley Book Festival Paranormal Ball--Where we were all winners!

We had the best weekend! The Las Vegas Book Festival was amazing and the Paranormal Ball, well, who could resist that!  Even though the Paranormal Ball was the last thing we did at the festival--I just had to start this blog post there.


You cannot really read the sign they kneeling before, but daughter S and L are both pointing to where it says, "The Paranormal Ball, Hosted by Brodi Ashton, with other authors attending." There were many other authors there and I thought it was incredibly generous of them. There was probably about 60 people at the ball and about15 of those were authors--we were able to sit and chat with many and it was quite amazing. For a list of the authors attending and some of their books read on--they are listed below where I mention the panels we attended.


Here we are in costume--so, I have to explain the costumes because they are from Brodi's Book that doesn't come out until January. Daughter S is the main character from Everneath, Nikki. She is dressed to attend a rock concert of the Dead Elveses--a band in the book. Daughter L and I are band members of that evil band! Don't we just look like rockers! It was really silly--but fun! Daughter S drew our wonderful Dead Elveses t-shirts in our hotel room. (Sorry, daughter S that I chose the picture with your eyes closed--but it is the best picture of me and the blogger chooses!)

I have to admit that I felt like an over-the-hill cougar on the prowl in Vegas. Not exactly my favorite look.


Daughter L was very paranormal, she could play the guitar and hula hoop at the same time!


Here are my girls with the talented Brodi Ashton who was taking a break from her hosting duties.

Here is Brodi hosting and handing out books. They gave many books away and we won two!!!



Brodi may just kill me, but I had to put a picture of her dancing the Electric Slide. Now that is a host that takes her duties seriously!!! There was no way you could stand on the side--we all had to dance!


I thought our Utah authors--Bree Despain, Brodi Ashton and Emily Wing Smith looked incredible. They were angels, but I don't think I knew why their wings were black. It's a mystery.


Daughter S was recruited to help hand out books!

While the Paranormal Ball was decidedly fun the Vegas Valley Book Festival was quite amazing! They had several different things going at once. First of all it was just a great book festival--there were panels, book signings, poetry readings, face painting, singing and yummy food carts. Then there was a special Children's Book Festival with a fun play area and authors--and finally this year the Vegas Valley Book Festival added a YA section to the festivities.

The Young Adult section is where we spent most of our time. We went to a couple of panels that were amazing and we were able to ask questions and listen to distinguished authors.

Here's a taste of what we saw:

1st Panel: What's hot for teens in fantasy and paranormal fiction.

Rachel Caine (the Morganville Vampire series), James Dashner (the Maze Runner trilogy and 13th Reality series), Becca Fitzpatrick (the Hush, Hush trilogy), Sophie Jordan (the Firelight series) and Bree Despain (The Dark Divine). Veronica Wolff (The Watchers series), Tera Lynn Childs (Oh. My. Gods) and Rachel Hawkins (the Hex Hall series).



In this picture: A side view of Becca FitzpatrickRachel CaineBree Despain, the very funny James DashnerSophie Jordan and Tera Lynn Childs.


I wish I had taken a picture that included the moderator Rachel Hawkins because she was quite hilarious and also Veronica Wolf because she was thoughtful and interesting and she just shot the breeze with us at the ball.


2nd Panel: Contemporary teen fiction: the dark and the light.

Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why), Daisy Whitney (The Mockingbirds), Liz Gallagher (The Opposite of Invisible), Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss), Emily Wing Smith (The Way He Lived) and Lisa Schroeder (The Day After).


Pictured here: Lindsey Leavitt, Emily Wing Smith, and Daisy Whitney

3rd Panel: Blending Realistic Fiction With Fantasy.

Jay Asher (The Future of Us), Heather Davis (The Clearing), Cat Patrick (Forgotten), Lindsey Leavitt (the Princess for Hire series) and Suzanne Young (A Need So Beautiful). Daisy Whitney moderates. 



Sorry I didn't get a picture of that.


The amazing thing was there weren't a ton of people, so we could actually talk to the authors. We stood in line and received a free ARC of Bree Despain's next book The Savage Grace that doesn't come out until March 13. Then we were able to have her sign it too!


Thanks Bree!


Here is daughter L with Sophie Jordan getting her book signed.

I am not usually a embarrassing raving fan--but this was just too fun!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'm off to the Paranormal Ball-Should I wear a paranormal shoe to ensnare the paranormal prince?

I am going to the Paranormal Ball this weekend at the Las Vegas Valley Book Festival! Yep, you heard me--the Paranormal Ball. Why, you ask? Because that's who I am--I am a paranormal ball aficionado. I've been to them all (okay this is the first)!

Actually I am probably very close to one of those beautiful people who might go to a Star Trek convention--actually a paranormal ball is a step up from that--so all you paranormals out there--I am NOT dissing you!

I actually have a very good reason to go--besides the dressing up. My sister-in-law Brodi Ashton is the host with the most at the "Vegas Valley Book Festival YA Paranormal Ball!"  Honestly, this is just something I have to go and see for myself.

I am quite excited--I get to take two of my daughters and head off to the bright lights of Vegas. We get to dance, meet some pretty amazing authors, support gifted family members and maybe even dress up! The problem is now--what to wear? I have one more day to decide.

If you want to read a very interesting and informative discussion on why a Princess Leia costume would not be appropriate at a paranormal ball please check out Brodi's Blog.  Just for your information in that post I am NOT sister-in-law 1! (No offense intended sister-in-law 1, but it still had to be said.)

Here are some options--I could be an angel:

Technically these are cherubs!
He's no Angel baby--
Except he is!
I could be a vampire:

But isn't that just so trendy!

Could anyone really do vampire any better?
There are so many choices--fairies of course are in the mix:

So cute and deceptively dangerous!
There are: devils, demons, witches, mermaids, nymphs, sirens and the list goes on and on and on.

I think I am confident enough to just be Angelina Jolie--Don't even try and tell me that there is nothing paranormal going on there! (That goes for Brad Pitt too.)


So do any of you have any ideas?

You will just have to tune in next week to see what the final decision is! If I return at all--who knows what could happen at a paranormal ball!