Wednesday, July 13, 2016

2016 Utah Ukulele Festival

The 4th annual Utah Ukulele Festival is 3 weeks from this Saturday at Willow Park. They have vendors, performances, lessons, an open mic competition, and giveaways. The best part? Entrance is free! 

Last year my niece and I went.  We ate great Polynesian food from the concessionaires, shopped the vendor stalls, took free uke lessons, watched the open mic competition, and she won a beautiful Kamaka ukulele in the raffle.  It was a really fun and relaxing way to spend a Saturday. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

USU Ceramics 2016 Spring Sale - (Pssst! Mother's Day is just around the corner!)

The annual USU Ceramics Guild Spring Sale starts today.  It will be held in the Fine Arts Visual Room #123 from 5pm to 9pm.  Tomorrow, April 29th it will run from 9am to 8pm.  And Saturday, April 20th it will go from 9am to 8pm.  Functional art for a great price, it doesn't get better than that.  Get out there and support your local starving artists! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

All The Words

Monday morning I woke up planning to ask Dad if he wanted to drive to the cabin for an hour or two that evening.  Later we were all suddenly called to the hospital.  We knew it was the end and we gathered together to wait.  We talked, we laughed, we cried, we hugged, we teased, we waited.

That evening, surrounded by his wife and children, he slipped away after 93 full years of life.  We marked his passing with a coca-cola toast.

We are very grateful to the nurses, doctors and staff at Logan Regional Hospital for taking care of Dad and for taking care of us as well.  We could not have hoped for better.
Yesterday the family gathered again to plan, to write, and to organize everything that needs to be done in the next few days and weeks.  The obituary will run today in the Salt Lake Tribune and in the Herald Journal of Logan.

What it doesn't say is that he was a teacher.

He taught me that it's OK if you're not the best at something, as long as you try your best.  He taught me how to ride a bike.  He taught me how to be brave when I was scared.  He taught me about carpentry.  He taught me how to laugh at corny dad jokes.  He taught me how to be responsible.

He taught me to love music of all kinds, Friday night was classical music, Saturday was opera, Sunday night was Jazz.  He taught me how to swim.  He taught me that it's OK to FAIL: First Attempt In Learning.  He taught me to love books and writing and words, and that these things have magic in them.  He taught me how to do a title search.  He taught me that family comes first, they are the ones that simultaneously lift you up and keep you grounded.

He taught me to love old cars.  He tried to teach me patience.  He taught me how to open a door with a credit card, the credit card broke, the door stayed locked.  He taught me to love travel and the growth that comes with it.  He taught me to be generous.  He taught me that you may be cool, but you'll never be a 90 year old wearing plaid pants cool.

He taught me about WW2 through stories of his own experience.  He taught me that marriage is equal parts romantic love, tolerance, compromise, humor, selflessness, endurance, service, compassion, thoughtfulness, and restraining the urge to smother your spouse in their sleep.  He taught me to cheer for the underdog, to help the helpless, and to support the small and unique businesses in our community.

He taught me to love gardening even though his thumb was more black than green.  He taught me that we can always be better than we were, but that it is ok if we're not perfect.  He taught me how to play tennis, and how a love of being active helps keep you sharp.  He taught me to love photography.

He taught me forgiveness with gentle reprimand.  He taught me the value of hard work and customer service.  He taught me that drinking from a mountain spring as often as you can fed your spirit and your thirst.  He taught me that a coke a day was the elixir of life.

He taught me that having lots of children and grandchildren is the secret to staying young in old age.  He tried to teach me how to be organized.  He tried to teach me to not care what other people think.   He taught me that you can never have too many friends. He taught me to love learning and recognize that it doesn't always come from a book, a lecture, or the scientific process.

He taught me how to cook breakfast.  He taught me to laugh at myself and find the light and humor in every situation.  He taught me so much through his words.  He taught me more through his actions.  He taught me to celebrate the good and the learn from the bad.  He taught me not to be afraid of endings because they were new beginnings in disguise.  Most of all he taught me how to love fully and without fear or demands, to love unconditionally.

He was a great teacher, I have always been a difficult student.  If there are shortcomings, they are a result of my weakness and stubbornness, not for lack of trying on his part.

In the end all the words in the world can't accurately describe who he was, how much we loved him, and how much he loved us.  So I'll wrap this up by saying.  The man, the myth, the dad.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Musings on "Mediocrity"

As I was getting ready for work this morning I took a break to check my email and facebook (Yeah, I'm a screen junkie, what of it?).  A friend of mine shared the following article on her facebook page and it sparked a very thoughtful conversation.  Something about the title bothered me, and then I had a facepalm moment when I realized the irony.  Go here to read "What If All I Want Is A Mediocre Life?". 

So the Queen of Medocrity doesn't feel comfortable with someone claiming their simple but good life is "mediocre".  Yeah, I'm a hypocrite.  Let's look at some definitions shall we?

The Merriam Webster definition of MEDIOCRE.

The Merriam Webster definition of SIMPLICITY.

Living a simple and quiet life where you strive to love and do good where you can, while enjoying the gifts life has to offer, without the constant strife and stress of a highly ambitious life is a gift...not a life of "low quality".

I often feel mediocre, like I have a wide breadth of general knowledge but no real expertise in any of it.  As a women and because of some life experiences I've had, I have a tendency to over analyze and then doubt myself and what I have to offer from time to time.  I allow myself to feel mediocre, no one else does it for me.  But more and more I realize the blessings of a small and quiet life.  The joy of solitude and freedom.  The relief of not over-scheduling yourself in the pursuit of a goal that may or may not improve my life in the long run but will certainly cause tension in the short term.

If we all set out to do great, important things, we would have no one to do the little and necessary things that we need for our lives and societies to function on a smooth course.  Many little things done with love and gratitude can achieve amazing results.  So please, dear readers, never mistake simplicity as mediocrity.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016


Whatever happened to dating?  How is it that there are so many people over the age of 30 who are single or divorced who are so terrible at dating or understanding social cues and treating potential dates with respect?  Are all you single adult Mormon men in Utah still clinging to the advice in the For The Strength of Youth pamphlet, even though you're 20+ years past the age group it was written for? (DATE IN GROUPS!  DON'T SPEND TOO MUCH TIME ALONE WITH ONE PERSON!  DON'T DATE THE SAME PERSON TOO MANY TIME IN A ROW!)  Guys, newsflash, you're not 16 anymore.  Learn how to date like a man.

It's not that hard. I promise.  Look I'll show you an interaction I had last year at a friend's party, to illustrate what you should do.

Man: "It was great meeting you, hey I hope this isn't too forward but can I get your number?"
Me: "Sure it's"
Him: "Great, I'll call you."
Me: "Looking forward to it."

And guess what?  He called me the next evening.  It went like this.

Man: "Hi this is Xxxxxxx we met at xxxxxx's party."
Me: "Hi Xxxxxxx, I remember, it's good to hear from you.  How are you?"
Man: "I'm doing well, thanks.  I was wondering if you'd like to go to dinner with me next Friday night?  You said you liked sushi so I thought we could go to Takara."
Me: "That would be great, what time?"
Man: "How about 6pm?  If you give me your address I can pick you up."
Me: "It's xxx W xxxx N in Logan."
Man: "Thanks, see you then."

And then he texted the night before to confirm that I was still on board for our plans.  He showed up on time, looking put together and smelling nice.  I had made an effort to look and smell nice.  His car was clean, he opened doors for me, and he engaged me in conversation.  After dinner he took me home and walked me to the door, gave me a kiss on the cheek and that was that.  Pretty much a decent, normal first date.

I had an enjoyable evening, but this gentleman and I didn't have enough in common and we went our separate ways, no hard feelings.  NO BIG DEAL.  It didn't crush me that we weren't meant for each other, and I'm sure it didn't crush him either.

I didn't obsess about it, BECAUSE he didn't promise to call me at the end of the I didn't expect him to call.  He was courteous, attentive, made a detailed plan...and shocker...he followed through on it.  He didn't expect anything in exchange for buying me dinner, other than the pleasure of my company and a chance for us to get to know each other better.  He did make an effort in his appearance and hygiene. He didn't stretch it out into a 4 hour long megadate.  He did make me feel comfortable and safe.  He didn't "forget" his wallet.  He used good manners.  He didn't rant about politics or his ex's.  He asked thoughtful questions and when I asked him questions he gave thoughtful answer.

Basically we both did everything right and enjoyed the evening but there wasn't enough there for a second date.  This is not why I'm asking what happened to dating.  Why I'm wondering what has happened to dating is that this date is one of the rare exceptions to my experiences with dating in the last 3+ years here in Utah.

The days of men calling women up and asking them out for a specific day/time/activity seem to be long gone.  Only a few dapper dinosaurs still do that.  Newsflash: I adore dinosaurs.  Most of  the dates I've been on lately have been set ups, and they are their own special kind of hell which I won't go into here.  However I have been on a lot of "hangouts" and I can honestly say, I'm not a fan. More often than not I get a text like this...

Him: "Whatcha doing?"
Me: "Just hanging out at home."
Him: "Um do you want to hangout?"
Me: "That's what I'm doing right now, alone, comfortably, in the privacy of my own home."
Him: "Um, with me?"
Me: "When?"
Him: "I don't know, whenever."
Me: "What would you like to do?"
Him: "Um, I don't know, whatever?"

Sorry guys, this is what you do with your bros or your roommates (why, by the way, are you 40 and have 3 college aged roommates?), not what you do with women that you are interested in and want to get to know better.  Even worse than Hang-Out-Guy is Indecisive-Guy.

Him: "We should get dinner some time."
Me: "I'd like that, when do you want to go."
Him: "I'll call you."
*crickets chirp...then die waiting for him to call, because he never does*

I've written about this subject before, you can find the post here.  Here's the thing guys, women in their 30's and 40's view dating a bit like this:

Either make an effort to let us know that you're interested and want to get to know us better and that we are potentially a priority in your life, or let us know you're not interested.  It isn't as difficult or scary as you think.  Please stop wasting our time, keeping us on the friend hook**, or wanting to ask us out but never growing the stones to do it. 

You don't ask us out?  Guess what, we're not waiting around for you to swoop in at the last second and offer us a spot on your slightly stained couch somewhere between you and the piles of discarded food wrappers and junk mail strewn about, watching a lame action movie.

Oh, and before you guys start thinking "Well that's easy for a WOMAN to say, you don't have to deal with the rejection, judgment, etc." let me share something.  For the last year I made a conscious effort to turn the tables and ask men out.  I did this at least once a month for all of 2015, every month with a different guy.  I called them up (or in a few chicken moments, texted) and asked if they wanted to go to dinner with me.  I made the plan, I picked them up, I paid, I took them home at the end of the night.  Did I get turned down?  Sometimes.  Did it crush me?  No.  Did I ask guys that might not be society's definition of super attractive, but seemed like kind and interesting men whom I wanted to give myself a chance to get to know better?  Heck, yes.  Did I enjoy myself on these dates?  Yes.  If I said I would call them later, I called.  If I wasn't interested it ended with a handshake and a simple "good night".  We had dinner, we had fun, we didn't die.  NOT.THAT.HARD.

Me?  I enjoy going out for dinner with nice guys, it doesn't happen all that often and I enjoy the novelty of it.  But if given the choice of hanging out with some random dude who can't be bothered to change out of a tshirt and sweat pants when I come over, and staying home alone...I'm going to pick staying home alone every time, at least then I don't feel like I have to change out of MY sweatpants.  I enjoy my own company more than that of a guy who treats me like an afterthought, thank you very much.

So please, will someone explain to me what has happened to dating?

**Side rant about "friend zoning".  Saying that we don't want to be in the Friend-Zone doesn't mean we don't want male friends.  What it means is that we want to have male friends who are friends, and don't use us as the romantic equivalent of a nightlight.  This means, don't treat us as a pseudo-girlfriend when you're in between relationships.  Ladies?  Same thing goes for you.  Don't Friend-Zone guys, don't keep them on the hook because you're too afraid to be alone but aren't interested in having a real relationship with the poor guy.  Be honest, be clear.  I promise, everyone will appreciate it.  Whatever you do, don't leave the girl wondering if it was a date or not.  I've had the following conversation more times than I care to count.

PS - Dating is disappearing almost as fast as good parties, and guests who actually know how to RSVP.   Don't get me started.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Portrait Project - Part 12

Estee and I knew each other when we were kids.  Over a decade ago we reconnected for a bit when we were both in bellydancing together, then we lost touch again.  A couple years ago we met again through a local foodie group and hit it off over our common love of Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series of novels which was about to be turned into a television show on Starz.  I added the Starz channel to my cable and Estee came over to watch every new episode with me.  We would have treats, and sometimes they were related to the show or the characters.

We couldn't get strawberries so...
... we had to get raspberries instead.
 Estee was interested in participating in the portrait project.  We talked about what she wanted to do and she started leaning towards an Outlander styled shoot.  She had her clothes and hair and makeup picked up, but we needed some props.  I put together Claire's "wee basket", and Estee came up with another idea.  She had found a blog that described how the writer had tried to recreate the lanterns from the "druid" dancing scene in the first episode on this website.  So we got together one night and made lanterns and they turned out great.  The only thing we changed is that instead of using an American 2 liter soda bottle, we used a large Guarana Antarctica bottle for shaping the lanterns.

My lantern
Estee's lantern
My finished lantern.
At this point we were ready to shoot.  Natalie from part 5 came and assisted on the shoot, and I'm grateful for her help and patience and her willingness to literally lift me up to try and get a very specific shot.  We started out in Logan Canyon along the river, then in Logan on the bench at an old stone building as a stand in for Castle Leoch or the stables, and then at a set of large cut stones acting as stand ins for Craig Na Dun.  If you've read the books you will probably be able to see the scenes or situations that we're referencing. 

We didn't set out to specifically recreate exact moments in the book or television show, but rather to pay homage...well that and we couldn't find stand ins for JAMMF, Frank Randall, and Donas.  I hope you have as much fun browsing the photos as we did making them.  First and foremost I wanted to make some lovely images of Estee and let her natural beauty shine through, the fantasy/role playing aspect was secondary, but I think we achieved both....what do you think?