Monday, December 29, 2008


Update: Photos posted at the Shooting blog.
We are home. We are tired. This is what I plan to do tomorrow. Find a nice place to relax and eat.

It was so worth it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wow, what a day!

Just a quick post to let you know that we had a wonderful, cold and tiring day. The weather was snowy with occasional breakthroughs of sunshine. The scenery was as we expected, incredible. I have been to Yellowstone many times in the summer and loved it. Today's visit was nothing short of awesome. At first the kids were a little unsure about the snowcoach, an old 1950's Bombardier, and what to expect. I'll admit, so was I. But as it turned out we had a wonderful tour guide, Molly, who immediately made us all at ease and provided us with all kinds of information about the park as well as the animals.

We were able to see Old Faithful erupt two times, although that is one thing that was not as impressive as I had hoped. With the cloudy skies and snowfall the geyser did not look as majestic as in times past. The kids had puzzled looks on their faces of "we came all the way for this?". Luckily, right after the eruption and our lunch Molly took us on a hike around the geyser basin and explained all kinds of interesting things to the kids.

The highlights of the day were the animals and they were everywhere. We saw bald eagles, ravens, elk, swans, signets and a few herds of bison. The snowcoach had two "sunroofs" and when the wildlife came into view we either got out on the road or just stood up in the coach and looked out of the sunroof. The three older ones took lots of photos while Little enjoyed the binoculars.
The day ended with a traffic jam caused by a herd of bison crossing the road out of the park. Man, those things are big! And they think they own the road! We got up close and personal with them, something none of us will forget.

The kids and Zeus are now tucked into bed for the night. I think I'll head there myself.

(Muriel, no, we didn't feel any earthquakes but we heard about them. Darn, that would have really impressed the kids!)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

It's cold up here!

Hello from cold, snowy Montana! The first 45 minutes of our drive was definately the hardest. The roads in Northern Utah were a sheet of ice this morning but after hitting the Idaho border it went much better. The last hour was on blowing and snow packed roads but they didn't bother me nearly as much as the ice.

After arriving in the small town of West Yellowstone we headed over to the IMAX Theater where we saw a documentary on the history and geology of the National Park. It was quite interesting and gave the kids a little taste of what we will hopefully see tomorrow.

Pete's Pizza was the choice for dinner and then back to the hotel for a swim in the warm pool. It's pretty darn cold up here so the pool was fun for the kids.

Our snowcoach arrives to pick us up at 8:45 in the morning so we are all turning in early. The forecast is calling for snow and cold temps tomorrow so we'll have to get up early to start putting on all those layers of clothes that we brought!

Hope you all are having as much fun as we are! Yes, Athena and Eris, you better be enjoying your temporarily empty nests!

Muriel, we waved at you as we went by!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Santa Report 2008

The festivities continue in our family on Christmas Eve when we all meet at my mother's home for soup and desserts. This year Mom was fortunate enough to have all of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren here. All 32 of us crammed into her house results in bedlam, but she loves it.

We were all back at home by 8:30 where Duchess and family joined us. We gathered in the front room and the pajama unveiling began. This year we started with the little one picking out a color and then everyone had to guess whose pjs they were. It turned out to be easy guessing. It still amazes me that this is the one thing that they get so excited about! (Yes, Athena is really texting in the photo.) After Eris read the new Christmas book the kids went to bed and the parents went to work.

Christmas morning was a bit quieter this year. There weren't as many gifts to open but I believe everyone was delighted with what was in their stocking. The above photo is Littlest Ms. discovering what Santa left for her. She had been insisting that she wanted a fish for Christmas. A fish? Really? Well, that's what she got. After some careful consideration she firmly announced that his name would be "WiseMan". Seriously, is that not a perfect name for a Christmas fish?

The last photo is of the four older kids opening their gift from me and Zeus. It was a Scrabble game with letters in it that they had to unscramble to find out what it was. Jubee got it right away, Bubba soon after, but in all fairness they had some hints beforehand that it was the name of a place. With a little help Jr. and Little figured it out: YELLOWSTONE.

Tomorrow morning we are taking these four on a three-day trip to Yellowstone National Park. While there we will tour the park in a snowcoach and see the wonders of this national treasure in it's winter glory. All of the snowfall in the last week will hopefully make this a trip for all of us to remember! Everyone has cameras and binoculars ready to check out the wildlife and Old Faithful. Hopefully I will be posting daily about our adventures so stay tuned.

Again, if you are interested you can see more photos at the Shooting Blog.

Now, I really must go pack my bags!


Thursday, December 25, 2008

An old tradition with a new twist

Zeus and I have a blended family. In fact, whenever any of us has to explain our family tree there is likely to be much stuttering and and then we are usually met with puzzled looks. How do I explain that my stepson is four years older than I or that we are now adding great-grandchildren while I am still on "guest status" in my Adults Only subdivision? Add to that the "acquired" family and grandchildren such as the Duke, Duchess and the Princess who have become part of us. And how could we not include the many special friends that are intricately woven into our everyday lives?

So this year we made a big change in our family party. We doubled the invitations and in the process, we tripled the fun! The gift exchange was done away with and replaced with games. The food became multicultural with tamales and other interesting (and spicy!) dishes added. Two pinatas were filled with candy and prizes waiting to be broken at the end of the night. Due to the size of the group we again rented an historic log cabin that was large enough to comfortably hold all of us.

Most of our guests had met in the past so we were all ready for some fun. The guys started the afternoon with a poker game. At five the kids arrived and a "nickle game" replaced the poker. It is one that even the youngest kids can play and at times can get quite noisy.

Then on to the balloon game, a new one for me. It involved tying balloons around the kids' ankles with string. The object of the game is to step on your opponents balloons to pop them and the last one with a balloon is the winner. The kids were divided into younger and older groups. What a fun game!

After a delicious dinner of roast beef, tamales and lots of other assorted dishes (thanks to all of you!) it was time to break the two pinatas. The kids all got a chance to take a swing and gather up sackfuls of candy and prizes.

It was a great evening with smiles and laughter galore. Zeus and I would like to thank all of our family and friends for making this such a great time. We are looking forward to doing it all again next year! And to those of you who are out of state or at home with a sick child, please know that you were all missed.

As usual, more photos at the Shooting Blog.
Santa report to follow tomorrow.

give a girl a camera....

Zeus and I hosted our annual holiday gathering two nights ago (the 23rd). When we arrived there I handed Eris and the Duchess each one of my cameras and told them to take lots of photos. They did what they were told. Grand total: 593 photos. It's a good thing that it snowed today so I could get editing done. Stay tuned for some of them.

By the way, they did a wonderful job. And neither one of them did what I managed to do last night... let the new D90 drop from three feet up. Result, broken lens, repair to come. Thank heavens for backup lenses.

$.00000 (snow covering every surface!)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Take a deep breath!

Have you heard the news? Have ya? Have ya? Oh my goodness, Zeus told me the most fabulous news yesterday! Now Eris, Muriel and Loki, you need to brace yourself for this.

For the last month I have been watching the construction on a new building just three short miles from my front door. Yes, this afternoon I actually measured the distance on the odometer of my car. It is close enough that I could run there on a good day. The construction style looked vaguely familiar but I couldn't place it. Well, I have now been informed that this building is indeed going to be a new Deseret Industries! Oh my, someone please check to make sure that Eris and Muriel are still breathing!

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Deseret Industries, it is the equivalent of a Salvation Army Thrift Store, a Savers or Goodwill. The DI, as it is affectionately known in these parts, is run by the LDS Church and is an outstanding training and employer of adults with disabilities.

Some of you will think that my excitement is overdone. A big pbfffffttt to you. I love roaming around looking for treasures. And I don't think there is one of you (at least those of you who live close to me) that hasn't benefited in some way by my "finds". In the last year I finally found (thanks to Mom) all of the replacement pieces to my Noritake China that mysteriously went missing in one of my moves 20 years ago. I've also found pieces to my sister's treasured Madrid Depression Glass collection that match the set she received from my grandmother. My discontinued Pfaltzgraff stoneware pattern is kept alive and well, along with many varied serving pieces, most of which I've never seen until I come across them on the shelves! I look for quality photo frames for my images as well as nice 3-ring binders that are ready to be covered with fabric for my mountains of scrapbooks. Oh, the treasures are there just waiting to be discovered!

I don't know when the opening date is but you can count on the Numismatist being there to watch the ribbon cutting! Duchess and Athena, you are welcome to join me!

Eris? Muriel? Are you okay?

$.13 (too much snow and ice to go out... damn)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dong Zhi!

The month of December is filled with all kinds of holidays, so why not add another? My guess is that few, if any of you have ever heard of this one, just enough reason for me to celebrate it!

Today is Dong Zhi, a Chinese holiday that recognizes the Winter Solstice. This year the solstice officially occurs at 12:04 p.m. and you can bet that at moment I will be out in my front yard dancing around my Festivus pole, rejoicing that each day for the next six months I will have a few more minutes of sunshine.

Dong Zhi is connected to the concept of yin and yang, which is the harmony and balance in life, or keeping things equal. All of you OCD people around me should easily relate to this. You can celebrate Dong Zhi by methodically eating your M&Ms in pairs (color-coordinated of course), folding your towels in perfect halves or parting your hair exactly down the center. Whatever your yin needs to yang.

So come on over to my house for some fortune cookies and tangyuan (rice dumplings).

Hurray for Dong Zhi!


Friday, December 19, 2008

My younger/older sister

Two months ago I wished a Happy Birthday to my younger sister Paula. Today I will send those same wishes to my sister Ann. She won't like it very much when I tell you that I am a bratty middle child.

It was always pretty hard to follow in the Ann's footsteps. She was a straight A student while I didn't care much about grades. Her hair was perfectly coiffed and makeup was always impeccably applied while I was much too lazy to worry about silly things like that. She worked from the time she was old enough to buy nice clothes that I promptly borrowed from her, without permission of course. She excelled in music and made it a successful profession while I played the piano as a hobby, rarely putting much effort into it.

Her accomplishments have been many and I'm proud to call her my sister.

Throughout my lifetime I have always felt that I resembled my father. His hair was dark and I thought my smile was more like his. As the years fly by there is now the occasional surprise when I am standing in front of a mirror and I recognize pieces of the rest of my family. Lately those little flashes have been of my Mom and Ann. Yes, we really are sisters.

Happy Birthday Ann. See you at lunch this afternoon.
And for whatever it's worth, because I am forever 39 and Paula is forever 26, feel free to choose whatever number you would like. I'll never tell.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Time for another celebration?

I haven't been out running since last Friday. It started snowing on Saturday and we've had flurries off and on since then. Not a lot of snow accumulation, just a few inches, but enough to make the roads unsafe. And it's coooold. The low temps don't usually bother me, but add wind and ice and I'll take a pass, thank you.

Also, the days are almost at the shortest of the year. Winter solstice is on the 21st (Sunday) at 12:04 p.m. and the days will start getting longer. It is possible that another off-the-wall celebration is brewing in six days! Hallelujah!

Mother Nature has been kind in another way, though. For the last few nights the moon has been positioned very close to the earth and the moonlight has been very bright. Bright enough to cast shadows in the house and to see the mountain cliffs clearly from our bedroom window in the middle of the night.

Four years ago before I discovered early mornings these things would have meant nothing to me. Mornings were my bane. Sleeping until nine (or later) was not unusual and staying up late to watch Jay Leno was the norm. Nowadays 7:00 is sleeping late. Who would have ever thought that Numi would like mornings? When I am outside and that five minutes of dawn occurs I sometimes stop just to enjoy the glow that comes from all directions.

It is 8:45 p.m. and I'm ready for bed.

Goodnight all.

The photo at the top is my Dad and Mom in the winter of 1949. This was one of the harshest winters of that century in Utah.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bleeding Purple

What an exciting day! This afternoon and evening was spent celebrating the graduation of our great friend Luis from the University. This isn't just any old graduation, this one was special in many ways.

We have known this fine young man and his family for eleven years. They had recently arrived in this country and at that time he was a good-looking, cocky 17 year old guy trying to find his place in a new and strange culture, including learning a new language.

It took him a while to find his direction, but once he did there was no stopping him. As he marched into the large arena this afternoon in his cap and gown both Zeus and I were choking with emotions. It has been a long, hard road for him with many obstacles. But he did it.

His wife Judy deserves much of the credit. She is a really neat lady who we adore. Those three beautiful kids with them in the photo were as excited as the rest of us when graduation was over and they could jump up into Daddy's arms and give him a high-five!

Hey Luis, we are proud of you! And thanks for letting us be a part of this wonderful day!

More photos at the Shooting Blog.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Jammie report

Pajama kids 2002

Eleven of thirteen finished. It should have been twelve but I realized that Mr. Eris, Jr. is no longer a size 6. What was I thinking?

Today's date has been marked on the calendar as "Pajama Day" for three weeks. Zeus was out of town so I had the entire day to retreat to my lair and sew, sew, sew. The serger and sewing machine were smoking hot all day.

Pajama Gang 2006

This pajama thing has been a holiday tradition for, oh, probably 10 years. Each year everyone who stays with us on Christmas Eve gets silly pj pants and a t-shirt.

Pajama Gang 2003

The pajamas are worn until they are threadbare. Last night I asked the Little Erises if they could tell me what their pajamas were for the last few years. Not only could they tell me theirs, but they also told Eris what hers were. That makes it worth all the work.

All that is left now is to press, wrap them in coordinating t-shirts and set them under the tree.

One more photo: This one was taken in 1959 (?). Mom made these matching nightgowns for us three girls. You probably can't see it but the pajamas that Little Ms. Eris is wearing in the 2002 photo are made from leftover scraps of these nightgowns. Now that is real stashbusting!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The "Not" shopping day

Today was the annual "shop till we drop" day with Jubee. She spent the night with us last night and then we got up early this morning and headed out, first stopping for breakfast.

You would think by now Jubee would know that when I pack my camera bag in the trunk the day is not going to be all about shopping. She has been one of my favorite subjects since the day she was born. For a long time I have wanted to take some images of the factory where my Dad spent most of my growing up years working hard to provide for his family. It is a classic old brick building that has recently been renovated. It was early morning with great light, just perfect for taking photos.

As long as I had a captive model I talked her into playing on the railroad tracks for awhile. She was a little nervous about it at first but soon relaxed. We were still taking photos when the lights and bells at the nearby crossing started going off. I didn't know Jubee could move that fast!

We finally accomplished some shopping, although not a lot. Like everyone else we have scaled back the number of gifts that are being given. I still have some sewing to do (PJ day is Tuesday) but so far I am not feeling the pressure.

Thanks Jubee for the fun day and being such a good sport! I love you!

$ .38

A few more photos are on the Shooting Blog.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


It's Eris' birthday! It you would like to you can wish her a happy birthday here or at her blog.

Photos from her birthday 1987


Thursday, December 4, 2008

It's Here! Festivus for the Rest of us!


See Addendum below..

Yes, the day I wait for all year is finally here! Oh my gosh, I'm so excited! I have the entire day to celebrate! For those who are unfamiliar with this celebration you can look here and here. And if that isn't enough you can reminisce about how I celebrated last year!

The gifts have been gathered all year and now I will spend the day distributing them, I'm sure bringing great joy to all recipients.

This year I am going to host the blog-version of The Airing of Grievances. I am inviting all of you to post your own grievance (or grievances) in the comments section. Because Festivus is celebrated by each person in his/her own way I will put rules on this new addition.

1. No personal comments that could be offensive to other readers, especially me.
2. You can post anonymously. No wait, that would make #1 useless.
3. If
you don't post a grievance it means that your last year has been spent in a hole
somewhere, never reading a newspaper or turning on a TV.
Photos of the festivities will be posted later in the day, with the exception of the Wrestling to the Ground of the Head of Household.


All in all, Festivus turned out to be a very joyful day. I was able to share in the celebration by handing out six poles to be displayed proudly for the remainder of the holiday season.

Unfortunately, Athena was out of her office when I arrived, as was the Duchess. Their poles were left attached to computers or hanging on the door.

The rest of the day was spent in the Big City to the south. After picking up Eris at her school (also left a pole in her cubicle) we went shopping at my favorite stores during her lunch hour. The DI and Savers are always good for some laughter. Adding to the entertainment was a texting conversation between Mr. Eris and Eris that seemed to go on and on about making sure their Festivus pole was going to be properly placed tonight.

Eris was delighted to present me with a Festivus gift, a new book. I will carefully read this book and highlight all applicable parts. Who knows, might be good for some future posts.

My Festivus Miracle was the finding of two new pieces of my stoneware. That's always a good day!

What? That's all the Grievances you can come up with? You are all a bunch of Festivus party poopers (except FN and Sharyn)!

Another addendum: Eris posted at great list of grievances. You can see it at her blog.