Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Back to the Counties -- Cheers to Carbon, Emery and Sanpete!

Lest you think I had forgotten the pledge to see all of the counties in Utah this year I thought I better post proof. It has not been as easy as I thought it would be to get it done, but we have managed to see 16 out of the 29 so far. I am hoping to squeeze in a few more during this long UEA weekend.

We did however have a great time in Carbon, Emery and Sanpete counties!

Cheers to the Emery County Parade and Fair

If you want candy, Otter Pops, and frisbees thrown at you as well as a chance to hug the Panda Express Panda, then the Emery County Fair is the place for you!

You too can limbo under the caution tape at the Emery County Fair on your way to see prancing horses, eat Navajo Tacos, and enjoy the world renown Lamb Fry.

Cheers to the Price City Wave Pool

May my children and husband forgive me for putting in this picture, but I couldn't resist. Visiting the wave pool may seem like a cheat for a Carbon County stop, but we were short on time and way too hot for anything else! If you ever have a change to go, it is fun and it also has an attached indoor pool with diving boards at various heights as well as a climbing wall. It is fun and by golly, I am counting it as a visit!!!

Then off to a quick rest at the beautiful Castle Valley Outdoors while we waited for evening to come because we were going to the Castle Valley Pageant.

Cheers to the Castle Valley Pageant

The Castle Valley Pageant tells the history of settling Castle Valley. It was Brigham Young's last decree before he died that people from beautiful and green Sanpete County should hop over the mountain to the beautiful and desolate Castle Country. It was faith promoting, sometimes hilarious, and well worth the time.

Chatting with the Pioneers folk

Come early, because before the show there are crafts and demonstrations.

The pioneers came over from Sanpete County on what is now Miller's Flat Road down to Joe's Valley. Today Miller's Flat is quite an adventure with a mostly passable dirt road that we decided to take--just like the pioneers. Only we were in a mini-van, it only took a few hours and we all made it in good health!

Joe's Valley Resevoir

Beautiful Miller's Flat road in lush Sanpete County!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why I love Instagram

I've enjoyed social networking platforms. I'm on Facebook, but seldom post. I have a Twitter account and I've been known to tweet, but I am more likely to re-tweet. I am on Google + but I don't have the hang of it. I obviously blog and I enjoy it a lot, but it takes quite a bit of time. Besides blogging, nothing else has really captured my imagination until Instagram.

It is as if I've been struck by lightning.

I am going to be a shameless advocate here, so please forgive me.

I am one of those people who lives inside my head a lot. I love solitary things--like walking, hiking, reading, writing, (napping), and driving. This rather strong need for solitude can be hard to explain. I love to do those things because it is then that I feel in tune with my surroundings. I notice things and I find many of the things I see moving, rejuvenating and inspiring. Then I want to share those discoveries with people I love.

My very first memory is of the side steps on our house. There were several brick steps and on every other one was a large rectangular (at least 4 feet long) planter of red geraniums. They led to lovely french doors that we didn't use and that were purely decorative.  I would lay down on the step next to the planter and hide. From this position I could look up at the flowers and see them framed against the blue sky and be alone. To this day I love the sharp sent of geraniums and the sky through green leaves.

Instagram captures moments like these for me and then allows me to share them.

Instagram also makes me think of Impressionists. I looked up the definition of Impressionists online and here is what I found (I highlighted what I am talking about in blue):

"impressionism [ɪmˈprɛʃəˌnɪzəm] n 

1. (Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Art Movements) (often capital) a movement in French painting, developed in the 1870s chiefly by Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and Sisley, having the aim of objectively recording experience by a system of fleeting impressions, esp of natural light effects
2. (Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Art Terms) the technique in art, literature, or music of conveying experience by capturing fleeting impressions of reality or of mood
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
The beauty of a face just waiting for a subway
I look at Instagram as the whole world recording fleeting moments. Stopping time for just a second and recording what they found interesting, moving, compelling, funny or sometimes just snapping a picture because they were bored.

I find so much beauty in the world. It is what makes life worthwhile to me. The small snatches of beauty that pack every single day. The times that transcend driving carpool or washing dishes. The living in-between.

Instagram also helps me feel connected to other people. I love seeing what my niece has her daughters wear to church. I want to see what family members are eating, where they are going and what they find beautiful.

Another one of my favorite things about Instagram is finding people in other cultures who love the things I do. Who love architecture, landscape, faces and flowers.

The very moment the sun makes something utilitarian beautiful.
I feel connected in ways I didn't think possible. I also feel like the whole world is being documented second by second and then it's gone and the new second is upon us. It's a futile and beautiful documentation of the ephemeral.

The perfect watermelon.
For example, one day I took a picture of the sun and then posted it with hashtag (#) sun. I then looked up on Instagram all the pictures with the #sun. My picture was already buried under 50 or more pictures of the sun--from all over the world.   That's it--it's filed in some digital obscurity.

Of course on Instagram you have followers and people you follow. There is also the possibility of going on Instacanvas to sell your pictures. It's satisfying to connect with people and have them get what you are trying to do--but it isn't why I do it. I do it to just have the ability to capture and share a moment I found inspiring.

The apex of a college career.

Favorite hamburger ever (Toast NYC).

Something grand, like the flowers at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC. 

Something unpredictable like petal-less black-eyed susans marching along the trail. 

The weirdness of the mundane in a mass planting of marigolds in my yard.

The grandeur of my favorite mountain, Mount Olympus, in April.

The simple perfection of a Hollyhock as it blooms.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cheers to People Who. . . Build in the middle of nowhere!

Cheers to the people who built the US railroad and ended up in Box Elder County, Utah! This is the view from Golden Spike National Historic Site. I took this picture standing just past the RR tracks looking to the NW. Let me tell you that the view isn't any less desolate (and in my mind, beautiful) from any of the other directions.  

This site is pretty much in the middle of nowhere--unless you just happen to work for a jet propulsion company. I was told that it was located out in Promontory because there were fresh water marshes that those steam engines needed to run (instead of that salty and stinky lake just south). 

Cheers to people who love their job. The ranger shown in the picture below (and I am very sorry I did not get his name) loves his job. He had more stories than you had questions and made my teenagers laugh. He had a microphone and wasn't afraid to use it! There is something to be passionate about for every single human--go out and find it for yourself--he obviously did!

Cheers to hyperbole! Golden Spike Burgers in Garland, Utah.

Cheers to hyperbole that actually may even be true--Yum, yum. Just as a side note on this burger--it had bacon, mushrooms, cheese, onion rings, avocado, lettuce and beef of course. I usually don't like kitchen sink style cooking--but this was really good.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wasatch County's Delicious Surprise - Tarahumara

We have been slowly working our way through the counties and so far we have 6 out of the 29 done. I wanted to get the rest by the end of the summer--we shall see. 

The rules for this county quest are:

1. Can see as many counties as want to in one day.
2. Must see something in said county that have never seen before.
3. Must actually stop and see something in each county.

Well, I have found much to cheer about so far in our quest, so here goes!

Cheers to people who make incredible deserts with a Mexican twist, and in Midway of all places! Tarahumara, Bakery and Tortilleria, which in English translates to really yummy place to eat (Wasatch County's new thing). 

The people there were really helpful while we made our selection.
I had to look up what Tarahumara meant and it was so fascinating I just had to share it.
     "The Rarámuri or Tarahumara are a Native American people of northwestern Mexico who are renowned for their long-distance running ability.[1][2] In their language, the term rarámuri refers specifically to the males, females are referred to as mukí (individually) and as omugí or igómale (collectively).. .
      "Current estimates put the population of the Rarámuri in 2006 at between 50,000 and 70,000 people. Most still practice a traditional lifestyle, inhabiting natural shelters such as caves or cliff overhangs, as well as small cabins of wood or stone. Staple crops are corn and beans; however, many of the Rarámuri still practice transhumance, raising cattle, sheep, and goats. Almost all Rarámuri migrate in some form or another in the course of the year."

It doesn't say anything about their baking ability, but who cares--as I always say--the proof is in the puddin'!

We didn't eat at the attached restaurant, but it got rave reviews by many online reviewers and by family members who have eaten there.
Beautiful pan dulce.

Beautiful everything else.

Yes, We ate this too and it was delicioso!


Monday, July 9, 2012

Poppy's Garden

I would call my father a renaissance man. He can pretty much do anything--who else starts doing Bikram Yoga in his late 70's and does it well?  He went to Harvard Law, always active in church, raised horses, ran large companies, ran small companies, was President of Ballet West for a bit, managed a ranch,  plays tennis, loves art, hiking, thinking, reading, a loving husband, amazing father and inspiring grandfather. 

That said, when I think of my dad I think mostly of gardening and hiking. Some of my earliest memories were working in the garden with him. When I was very young he decided to plant tons and tons of bulbs in the large yard that we had at the time. I remember planting those bulbs on a cool autumn day. When I became an adult and had my own yard I bought some peat moss to remediate the soil. I opened the large pack and was immediately assaulted with a sense memory so strong it made me cry. I was taken directly back to planting those bulbs and how much I loved the soil and how I had forgotten it until that moment.

I remember when we went hiking when I was little that he would tell us the names of all the wildflowers. I still know the names of all the ones he taught me. When we would go on long hikes we were always quiet on the way up the mountain, but then on the hike down we would talk and talk. I love to hear him talk about anything--to this day he is always interesting--although not always talkative.
I feel blessed that my children know their grandparents well--on both sides and that they are all wonderful people. My mom and dad have all of us (as many as are in town), kids and grandkids alike, over almost every Sunday. There are usually about 30 of us. Who does that every week and still smiles when we arrive?

No one grows zinnias like this. Not a speck of powdery mildew. If you've ever grown Zinnias in Utah you know how hard it is--you have to be vigilant and committed. Yet, he does it. Anything in his care is lucky.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Cheers to people who. . .

After leaving Weber County we entered beautiful Morgan County. Not big on population but big on beauty and charm.

Cheers to people who make deep fried ice cream that we ate at the East Canyon Resort. I think it must have been because we had been in the car for several hours and needed a break but this was a fun stop.

This dessert was ice cream, wrapped in a flour tortilla, deep fried and finally topped with cream and cherries (or strawberries if you'd rather). We ordered 2 for four of us and after we'd fought over who got the last bite we ordered two more. I am a little embarrassed by this--it wasn't the most refined or gourmet thing I've eaten, but I have to admit it was fun.

Yep, cheers to people who make "Silent Wind Chimes." Isn't that actually just a picture or maybe folk art--not to the folks at East Canyon Resort--there, they are wind chimes that have the audacity to not make a sound!
They were kind of pretty. (This picture does not do it justice though.)

Cheers to people who, put flowers next to RR tracks -- Morgan City, Utah

and put roads though mountains.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Weber County, and that spells CHEESE!

We did our summer family vacation this year in spring--May to be exact, to see our daughter graduate from college in NYC. So, I looked bleakly ahead to a summer without something special to look forward to and knew I had to come up with a plan. So, I thought and I thought and I thought and then EUREKA--I came up with a wonderful idea.  Visit every county in Utah. Doesn't that sound fun! I've always wanted to do that and now I had an excuse.

I presented the idea to my lovely husband and children and it went over about as well as a lead balloon. I forged ahead anyway and thought that I would just plan little outings and they could come if they wanted to. You know how I love an adventure solo or ensemble--especially if it involves driving and so I didn't get discouraged--No, not me!

A while back in some national magazine I read about an internationally recognized cheese maker in Utah with the company name Beehive Cheese, located in Uintah. Don't confuse Uintah City, which is in Weber County, with Unintah County, like I did. When I looked up the address for Beehive Cheese I was a little disappointed, I was hoping for a trip a bit further away, but then realized that it was only about 40 minutes from my house. Which is great in the long run, because now if I have a hankering for the cheese I can just hop up to Uintah for a fix. 

I was able to talk most of my family to go with me--you ask how?! I bribed them with award winning cheese and it worked! 
How can you pass up a marketing
ploy like this "Handcrafted Cheese and Curds!"
Well, we headed up to the mouth of Weber Canyon, just barely off of Highway 89 and gave it a try. Yum. Yum. Yum.  They've won both American Cheese Society awards (their Promontory Cheese won first place) and World Cheese Awards (the Full Moon cheese won a bronze medal in 2010).

We bought the Promontory, Promontory with Habanero and Ragin' Cajun squeaky cheese curds and they were all wonderful. They are extra creamy and buttery, which I guess is part of their process. They explain it all on the website.

The store inside was tiny and the building itself was tucked away from the highway and behind several other buildings, but it was well stocked and we left a little poorer and a little heavier.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rosie's Cottage

I received a phone call a few days ago from the woman who previously owned our house. Her husband died over a year ago and her health was in decline so late last summer she had to sell the house she'd lived in for decades. We bought the house on the last working day of 2011. She loved her house. My husband and I could tell just by walking through it. They had customized the house to fit their needs to an extreme degree. 

It has six small bedrooms, a dark room and his and her separate work/craft rooms. There was a rose motif throughout the house, the back door with roses etched into the glass, the trash compacter with a wooden rose stenciled on the handle, rose address tiles and actual roses, roses everywhere. 

I counted over 25 rose bushes just in the small garden in front, probably 20 in a similar garden in back and another 20 at least throughout the yard. 

We decided not to do anything with the roses until we had seen them bloom. I wanted to see and smell them and I am glad I did. We were in for an extravaganza of rose variations and boy oh boy, do they ever smell good. 

I've been trying to discern the types and it looks like we could have, AlbaAustin, climbing, floribunda, hybrid tea, miniature and roses that have gone to root stock, to name a few. I wish I knew the exact varieties --I am pretty sure there is a Peace Rose and my particular favorites are a yellow rose that smells faintly citrusy, a deep red with a wonderfully saturated heavy sent and the cabbage style roses that look like peonies.

Anyway, back to my conversation with the woman I now call Rosie (real name withheld because it's not near as fitting).  She thanked me for sending her roses. Unbeknownst to me--my very thoughtful and non-communicative husband had told the neighbors who are still close friends with Rosie that if they were going to visit her in the retirement home that they were always welcome to take roses to her. They did. 

Our conversation was very nice. She of course talked of her love for the house and we had a discussion on the cultivation of roses. I spoke of a recent infection of aphids that is now under control. She spoke of the things she loved about her historical home. I knew she had not been ready to leave, but circumstances forced her out. The conversation made me both happy and sad. 

I was happy that I shared the love of the house. It is simple, useful and charming. It is smaller than we were used to, but it feels right. It is slightly run down and we've been ripping out wallpaper, painting and putting in new light fixtures. We found beautiful wood floors under carpet and we sanded and waxed them back to life. The list is long of other repairs that need to be done--but nothing is urgent. It has a view of my beloved Mount Olympus and of our neighbors beautiful gardens. It is a family neighborhood with a strong community feel and one we are familiar with. My son can run and play with his friends at a moments notice. So much of what I love about the house is what she had loved about it too.

I was sad because life marches on, children move away, husbands die and our bodies fail.  I was sad because we've already made changes to her beautiful cottage that I know would make her sad. We took out the kissing dove bird bath in the front rose garden and other small statuary.  A neighbor approached me at church and asked me what I had been doing inside the house and I just mentioned that we are updating it a bit. She must have been a friend to the previous owners because she made the statement that "some day someone was going to do the same thing when you move out," like I had personally offended her by making changes. Even though it hurt my feelings it also made me feel good that the family who lived there previously had made an impact--were thought worthy of defending.  

The phone conversation ended and I was left with an overwhelming feeling of love for the woman. She just had to connect with us and check on her roses. 

We've left pretty much all of the roses in front untouched. We had to remove a couple that had gone to root, a few that were crowded against the house and crowding other bushes. The back has been a different story, we have removed quite a lot and I've said a silent prayer asking for Rosie's forgiveness.