Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Five Pretty Swell Guys

This week I celebrate some swell guys who have orbited around my world. I present them to you in no particular order of importance, although I've assigned numbers to each one.

GUY #1

First comes SCOTT.
This brother of mine just returned from Amsterdam where he was training marriage therapists. He does these professional trainings on every continent. In between trips, he is the director of the Marriage & Family Therapy programs at five universities. He stays awake during his U.S. commutes by calling me and we share lively conversations. Last week, he passed through Provo and stayed a night at the Ginger Hotel. We enjoyed a canyon hike in the morning and it was a L-O-N-G one. We both took Tylenol when we got home.

GUY #2
I never would have guessed at age 7 that my friend Sashi would eventually marry a way cool Jamaican fellar who then would become an integral part of our family circle. DAVID and Sashi have visited Utah frequently over the last twenty-five years and they've even claimed a stake in Utah mountain property.

Last week, David spent five days at my place while he was preparing to sell his real estate. When he wasn't doing business, we enjoyed a variety of discussions, good meals, canyon hikes, etc. Here he is, fixing me a delicious breakfast.

GUY #3

Although GRANT doesn't orbit in my world as much as Guy #1 or #2, he is still a delightful acquaintance and we did share a canyon hike this week. (That's where I've have been privileged to develope some pretty high-quality friendships.) Grant is a person who simply enjoys people with no age, gender, political, or other forms of discrimination. About five years ago, Grant got the brilliant idea to make benches and sofas from huge boulders lying around in the canyon. He placed them where people could rest at fabulous 'viewpoints'. I appreciate the way Grant is always giving to others, including his healthy snacks which end up fortifying ME along the trail.

GUYS #4 & #5

These are two more brothers. Guy #4 is leaving to Russia where he's be a Mission President for the Mormon church. KEN and his wife will be far, far away for three whole years. So we had a big ole family party for them on Sunday. That meant we ate and talked and ate some more. (Some of you may remember that Ken's the guy who encouraged me to face my spinal curvature so I'd get 'straightened out' in surgery.)

RICHARD is Guy #5. He's a devoted dad who is always doing cool outdoor stuff with his family - mountain biking, camping, skiing, fishing, hunting, backpacking. (You may notice that #5 and I have similar looks.) After all that EATING at Ken's party, I carpooled with Richard and his family back to Utah County and they invited me to DINNER. So, I had yet another great feast with dear #5. He barbequed chicken. Way yummy.

This week, I feel mighty fortunate for FIVE PRETTY SWELL GUYS who SHOWED UP in my life and brought me JOY. When it comes to men, I must say, I enjoy a potpourri.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Part Two - Northwest Tripping

And here's the rest of the story . . .

My eldest sister Wendy lives in the Northwest ~ Spokane, Washington, to be specific. That was my next destination. After hugs & goodbye waves to the Canadians, Vic and MJ, before they continued north.

Wendy honored my arrival with a delightful dinner including asparagus bathed in shrimp as a side dish! (I had thirds.) Her son Karl, wife Kate plus two kiddos joined us and we supped on the back deck, chatting as the evening enveloped us.

Wendy & Byron live on 13 acres of paradise
ith horses, mules, chickens and a host of wildlife. Here's a shot of the river that runs below their property. I roamed the countryside with Wendy on her early morning hike through the woods. Simply couldn't believe the beauty of it and her good fortune to actually RESIDE there. She enjoys it to the fullest!

After breakfast,
we picked up Karl's daughter
and toured some of Spokane's gardens and parks.
Nishinomiya Japanese Garden
was our first stop.

I felt like I was back in Japan
with these stone pagoda lanterns
amidst the Ponderosas of the Northwest.

We also strolled through Manito Park and Riverside Park
where they held the 1974 World's Fair.

Everywhere we went,
a group of Hutterites showed up.
These 'cousins' of the Amish were taking a fieldtrip!
We finally made friends
and were asked to take photos of the teenage girls
. . . with their cameras, not ours.

When we saw them for the 3rd or 4th time
at the old-fashioned carousal by the Spokane River,
Wendy took shots of the girls.

Wendy's little three-year-old granddaughter (BELOW)
was okay with a seat, but not ready for a pony-on-a-pole.
She insisted on a second ride and I was game.

Even more thrilling than the carousel
was the chance to see the Spokane Falls
at the height of the spring run-off.

That evening, we had another round of dining alfresco,
near Wendy's home.
This photo was taken from our picnic table . . .
No kidding.
Some little non-profit group put a gorgeous marble table
alongside a rarely-traveled back road.
I should have photographed the TABLE!

The next morning,
we went to another one of my sister's favorite hiking spots ~
the Rocks of Sharon.

It's a rather steep climb to get to these incredible rugged rock outcroppings with top-of-the-world view of the 'Palouse' region of the Northwest . Wendy and Byron are super-trekkers. I was seriously pushing it to keep up their pace. These two are redefining life in the SIXTIES.

Here's Byron,
the Ultimate Scouter and Water Skier.

Here's Wendy,
happy as a lark after hoofing up the mountain.
(You'd never guess that she bore nine kids
and raised ten!)

Here's me,

smiling because I was able to keep up with my sister.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Traveling North & West

Last week, Vic's birth mom Mary Joy arrived
and helped our graduate pack up her high school life
for the trek back to Canada.

Before leaving, there was one last chore.
A pine tree needed planting.
MJ and Vic were HEROIC
in their ability to keep the tree
in check
as they rolled it down the hill
on a platform with wheels.

And there was GOOD ATTITUDE
to boot!

Oh, it was SAD to see Victoria's empty bedroom
which has been cram-packed since her arrival in 2007!

At the last moment,
I was invited to jump in the car and join MJ + Vic for the ride north.
I surprised myself by giving a Thumbs Up to the plan.

I just want to say
- emphatically -
that Idaho can be drop-dead gorgeous,
even in the rain!
Here's MJ & moi, on one of our many stops
to gasp at the beauties along the way.

We traveled beside raging rivers during much of our
thirteen-hour drive to Moscow.
(Moscow, IDAHO, that is.)

To give you an idea of "RAGING",
I'm going to make my first attempt at videography . . .

We arrived (a bit bedraggled) at the home of my eldest goddaughter Brooke. She and her husband Mike perked us up with a refreshing twilight stroll through Moscow, a funky college town with a vibrant downtown. Go there. It's hip.

Then we supped with my nephew David who is a vocal performance major at the University of Idaho. Of course, we made sure that he sang for his supper!

Wow. He blew us out of the water with his amazing baritone voice!!!! (If you want to be blown out of the water too, go HERE.)

For dessert, Brooke produced a huge watermelon slice decorated with blazing candles in honor of Vic's graduation. She tossed on a cheezy plastic Hawaiian lei for party effect. We laughed at her creativity, but I'm sure that at least ONE of us will copy her watermelon cake celebration since it was delightful. Then David SANG a TOAST to the graduate. Another spine-tingler.

If you think I intensified Vic's blushing cheeks with some fancy-dancy photo-shopping, you are WRONG. That girl is blessed with delightful watermelon-red cheeks!

The next morning, we dined on yet another round of watermelon for breakfast. Mangoes on the side! It was a spontaneous picnic breakfast in the countryside.

Notice the details ~
Vic is holding a baby. That's Brooke's little Hannah.
MaryJoy is inventively using TP for napkins.
Brooke is squinting in the sun as she cuts up a mango.
There are two dogs, vying for our feast.
AND, the countryside is picture perfect.

There's more to this story of my trip, Traveling North & West.
The trip is over. But the story is . . .

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Bride in the Family

A couple of months ago,
I hosted a bridal shower for my niece Robyn
at my place.

FAST FORWARD: many family members gathered
in San Diego (just last week) to celebrate her wedding to Mr. Kevin.

When I say MANY, I mean SCADS.
Our family is on the large size.

Between the three celebratory events
- wedding, luncheon, reception -
there was time for my brother Ken
to tickle my little grandson Kenneth.
(This is Ken's FAVORITE hobby, next to starting businesses.)

We also managed to hit the Birch Aquarium.
(I highly recommend it if you go to San Diego.)

Arian, Jill, Kenneth, Audrey, Ken, Athelia and myself
all bunked at the same sweet dive in Old Town San Diego.
Other family members squirreled in
with kin or friends.

Here I am with my sweet D.I.L. Jill
and her kids
at a Mexican breakfast, day after the wedding.

Then, we sent my son and his family off to
"Hotel Del Coronado"
where they spent four days lounging
on his company tab.
Actually, Arian legitimately earned a sizable travel voucher
for his performance in the company
and they decided this Hang Out would be a great idea
before Jill's upcoming hip replacement.
Which it WAS!

Of course, our Kenneth had no sense of propriety
amidst the grandeur of this historic hotel.

Notice - his feet are NOT on the ground!
His mom aptly calls him the Energizer Bunny.
After I snapped this shot,
he rolled into a round of giggles.

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