Groundhog Day Brings Another Birthday

If birthdays have to come around every year, at least they should be a lot of fun.  This year my birthday did seem to get here even more quickly than ever, but Michael and many others made sure that it was definitely fun.

I started the day with some pickleball.  Pickleball has been getting REALLY fun on some of the days I play.  Birthday pickleball this year was fun, but not REALLY fun – some of my tennis friends wanted to learn so Marie and I took them for a teaching day.  Teaching days are fun, but I guess I prefer the days I am being taught (but hopefully not schooled!).

I hurried home to meet my friend Lori who bakes me something new and lemony every year.  This year it was Lemon Streusal Cake.  YUM!

My friends Marie and Tina took me to lunch and we had such a nice time sitting around visiting for long enough that even though we were at Wendy’s, someone came around and bused our table!

I met up with my old Stake Young Womens presidency for treats after that – but I just stayed for a half hour until Michael picked me up and took me on ANOTHER birthday celebration.

We drove to Salt Lake City and checked into one of our favorite downtown hotels just in time to change clothes, find somewhere to eat (Thai), then walked over to Abravanel Hall to see the Utah Symphony play.  They played Mozart and Hayden with a guest pianist from Amsterdam, Ronald Brautigam who played Mozart’s Jeunehomme Concerto.  We were sitting very close to the piano and had a great look at all that he was playing.  WOW!  I did get a bit distracted with all of his “choreography” which was at times a bit over the top.

We really enjoyed the concert, as well as the pre-concert discussion that helped us to know what it was we were listening to, plus learn a bit about the pianist who was also there at the introduction and gave a short interview.

On the way back to our hotel we “happened” past a super fun dessert shop and decided that since it was my birthday we should try it out.  It was one of those places with cleverly named $10 desserts, and it was super fun.  We went all out and ordered the lemon stack (layers of lemon and thin crepes, with white chocolate sauce and fresh berries) and the Glamping S’mores which were quite glam!  We ate about half of each and about killed ourselves but it was tons of fun and we took the rest home for later. (Didn’t learn our lesson, I suppose.)

Saturday morning we got up and went for a walk around downtown and up and around the State Capitol building.  It was actually a very beautiful morning for early February and we really enjoyed ourselves.

Not ready to be done with our adventure, we went back and got ready for the day, checked out of the hotel, and headed to the Winter Farmers Market.  We had a blast tasting samples and buying lots of fun things from local artisans – probably mostly fancy chocolate.  We did balance it out with some really great looking baby arugula that we took home and ate for dinner.

Before calling it quits for the birthday party we met up with Matthew, Becky, Esther and Sylvia for lunch.  What a wonderful celebration.

I also got to see or talk to each of my wonderful kids, and heard from lots of friends and family so it was a pretty great birthday.  So much fun helps keep my mind off the number of birthdays I have now celebrated!

Thanks, Everybody!!!!

We visit the arctic tundra of Ann Arbor

Sherrie and I have been slackers in writing our doings, or doing our writings. We apologize for the hiatus, and hope (promise?) to do better!

All of a sudden we are all the way through fall and halfway through winter.  We had a super nice fall in Brigham City that lasted much longer usual and we really enjoyed the great weather with lots of hiking, biking and the like. Now that winter is here, though, the skier/snowboarder within us is desperately seeking snow! We haven’t got much yet, but we had one day with Mike Macedonia and his daughter Daphne a couple weeks ago. It was our first trip to Snowbasin, and we quite liked it, even though the snow was thin and we wished we had trashy skis for the conditions.

As we write this, Sherrie is in Ann Arbor, and Michael is back home in Brigham City. Through the miracle of Google Docs, we are collaborating on this entry in real time. We went to Ann Arbor a little over a week ago, and Michael came back home on last Saturday. Little Phoebe May was born six weeks ago, and we hadn’t seen her yet!

We (had?) (are having?) a wonderful time in Ann Arbor. Sherrie and I got to walk Silas to and from school each day, and meet his teachers and see what his school is all about. It’s a fun school and Silas seems to like it a lot. In face, he likes it almost as much as playing in the snow piles on the way to school (which is quite a lot!).

Ann Arbor was hit with the arctic blast like much of the midwest and east coast, so we had some cold days last week. It warmed up for a few days then got cold again when Michael left. Meanwhile, Utah is warm (highs in the low 40s) and sunny. But it appears that Sherrie is bringing a major storm home to Utah with her this weekend.

Our purpose in going to Ann Arbor was to meet Phoebe and also to help Jared and Rachel as they adjust to being four instead of three.


(Rachel and Phoebe. Phoebe is so cute!)

We got to do chores, take Silas to school, walk with Phoebe, and take the whole family out to run errands in our rental car.


(Grandpa reading to Silas)


(Rachel and Silas in some task)


(Jared and Silas making “egg nuggets”)

It’s been fun for Michael and Sherrie to see Ann Arbor again after being away for so long. Lots of old memories, and we even saw some people at church that we hadn’t seen in almost thirty years!

We made a trip to Frankfort (near Traverse City) to see Michael’s stepmom Jan.


(The arctic tundra of the road to Frankfort)

Our visit was too short! Jan made a lovely dinner of salmon, salad, potatoes, and dessert, and we had a lot of fun catching up. On the drive, we had a good time taking turns reading from “A Wrinkle in Time.” Michael had never read it before, and it’s been a while for Sherrie. We are reading it in preparation for the release of the movie this summer.

We got together with Michael’s sister Wendy and her son Dylan one night. Kevin is teaching in Arizona, and Wendy and Dylan are looking forward to moving out there this summer when Dylan finishes high school. It was fun to be with them and we appreciated their willingness to make the trek to Ann Arbor from Waterford on a snowy night.

On Saturday, we had a fun trip to the Hands-on museum in Ann Arbor. It was fun and a bit tiring following Silas as he ran from exhibit to exhibit. It’s an amazing place with lots of cool things, and occupied Silas full attention for a couple of hours.


(Silas in the “ball room”)

Today, Sherrie and the rest got to visit the Bell Tower on Central Campus for a concert in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Silas even got to try his hands on the bells:


Photo challenge: Layered

This week’s photo challenge is “Layered.” I immediately thought of this photo I took in Snow Canyon on our hike this week:


Snow Canyon is famous for “petrified sand dunes.” They are sort of like slick rock in Moab, but sort of not. The look like they could blow away at a moment’s notice, but they are as stout and firm as any rock you’ll see. The patterns in the rock are mesmerizing.

Southern Utah trip

Sherrie and I made a fun trip to Southern Utah this week! We stayed in St. George for a couple of days and went to Zion National Park and to a see Newsies at Tuacahn. We also hiked in Snow Canyon and were able to squeeze in a fun game of pickleball with our very busy friends Tracie and Glen. On the way home, we stayed one night in Bryce Canyon and hiked through the canyon. It was a fun trip, and we didn’t want to come home, which probably means it was a successful vacation.

Zion National Park

On Tuesday, we hiked to Observation Point in Zion. This was a fairly difficult hike. We included Hidden Canyon, so the total distance was over eight miles, with about 2500 feet of elevation gain. We were tired by the end, but we loved the hike.

Here’s a beautiful landscape of the view from the trail partway up; you can clearly see Angel’s Landing, and the beauty that is Zion.


At the top, I took a picture of the end of Angel’s Landing with the telephoto; this is from nearly a mile away, and the telephoto did a nice job picking out the people.


And here’s the big-picture view:


Sherrie shows the happiness we both felt at the top after a strenuous hike rewarded with beautiful views


We visited Hidden Canyon on the way down. It wasn’t scary like Angel’s Landing, but there were some spots that required your attention:


Snow Canyon

Wednesday we hiked in Snow Canyon. Neither of us had ever been there before. Snow Canyon is famous for “petrified sand dunes,” which are sort of like slick rock and sort of not.



We also saw lots and lots of Moqui Marbles (see “Iron Oxide Concretions” in the article). Native Americans believe them to hold mystical properties; I think they are pretty cool.


At the end of our hike there, we were about a mile from the car. There was a very large petrified dune between us and the car. Sherrie was sure we would go around it; I wasn’t sure whether we would or not. To the vexation of our tired legs, we scrambled over:



Wednesday night, we went to Tuacahn and watched Newsies. The weather was perfect and we both enjoyed the show. The best part is that we had Hotwired a hotel, which turned out to be Red Mountain Resort, which is about a mile from Tuacahn, so we were home after the show within a couple of minutes.

Bryce Canyon

Thursday, we drove to Bryce Canyon. On the way, we stopped in Parowan and had lunch at La Villa’s with our friends Bruce and Kathy Allen. At Bryce, we had Hotwired a room which turned out to be “Ruby’s Inn” just outside the park entrance (location, location, location!). The weather turned cold and stormy Thursday afternoon and into Friday, and Bryce was a lot colder than St. George.

On Thursday, we hiked the rim and had some awesome views:



We weren’t too ambitious Thursday, so we only hiked a few miles. Thursday night, I went back to Sunset Point at sunset to take a timelapse of the night sky. I was nearly thwarted by clouds, but they went away right around sunset, and so I took my timelapse. Here’s a frame:


The sky was very dark and the Milky Way really stood out. Take a look at my Sunset Point Timelapse to see the result; I wish I could have recorded longer, but the clouds moved in so quit earlier than I wanted.

On Friday, we hiked through Zion. We started at Bryce Point and worked our way north back to Sunset Point. Here’s a picture of Michael on the trail from Bryce Point:


A cool view as the path goes through a hole in the rock:


We hiked through the bottom and then up via Queen’s Garden so we could see the “Queen Victoria” rock.


And then, we went BACK DOWN into the bottom again so we could see the Navajo Loop and Wall Street. The bummer about hiking in Bryce Canyon is that you always start at the top and hike down, and you don’t really know what’s waiting for you because you have to climb back out–it’s hard! But it’s totally worth it. We accidentally saved the best for last, as Wall Street was pretty cool. This part of the trail ended up being our favorite.  Here’s one of the big trees growing up past the steep walls on Wall Street:


and here’s Sherrie on the switchbacks climbing back out above Wall Street:


The view down into Wall Street:


It was a great trip, and we had a blast.

Weekly photo challenge: Waiting

In this week’s photo challenge (“Waiting”), we were asked to share a snapshot that shows a sense of waiting.

I had the blessing today to spend some time with my two granddaughters Esther and (newborn) Sylvia while their parents had some time out together. Esther was, of course, a ball of energy, and Sylvia was, of course, sleeping. We had fun playing with playdough and Esther was her normal ebullient self.

I got a couple of good shots of Esther, both of which evoked for me Waiting. The first was when Esther told us all we had to take a nap. She proceeded to lie on the couch, and although she was only still for about  a microsecond, I managed to capture this:


Do not fool yourself into thinking that the afternoon was a quiet affair! The second photo is more indicative of how things went:


Applause please!

Weekly photo challenge: Structure

In light of the fact that I’m trying to become a (better? good? not horrible?) photographer, I’m going start participating in WordPress’ weekly photo challenge.

This week’s challenge is Structure. When I saw that, the first thing I thought of was the structure in the sun’s corona that I captured in my eclipse photos. The best of those, in my opinion, is this one:


It captures a few things that are appealing to me. First is the structure in the corona, which is what this week’s photo challenge is about. It also captures Mercury’s ability to shine in the presence of the sun, and not be overwhelmed by it. I’m sure many people can relate to that metaphorically.

The photo is simple, but I am quite pleased with it.


I want to do a quick post to close the loop on the eclipse. It was, without hyperbole, one of the greatest experiences of my life. Perhaps short of seeing my children born, but definitely better than any other natural world experience I’ve ever had. Totality was amazing. Don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s almost as good to see it at 99%. I’ve seen both, and I promise you, it is night and day different (literally, and figuratively).

We had a long car ride home, but it was TOTALITY worth it.

Without further ado, some photos:

First, through the solar filter as the eclipse began; you can see a few sunspots in this one:


Later, with the sunspots on the “limb” clearly visible:


I managed to get “last light” through the solar filter:


Of course it’s impossible to describe what happened during the eclipse. It got cold. The streetlights came on. There was a 360-degree “sunset.” And the stars came out, as you can see in this one (four or more “stars” if you look closely, including Venus to the right and Mercury to the lower left):


This is my favorite; Mercury is very prominent to the lower left, and you can see a lot of structure in the corona.


Finally, I tried to get the “diamond ring.” I didn’t time it quite right, but here’s what I ended up with. I purposely edited it so you can see the structure in the corona, though it makes the central part over-exposed. You can also see some visual artifacts from diffraction in the camera (?) from the bright part of the diamond ring: