Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Busy Few Days in the Neighborhood

Hokay, as my youngest son is fond of saying, some of you may have noticed that I haven't posted anything the past few days. This is because I've been a little busy. ;) I began last week by heading to Utah for a doctor appointment, and to help out with a little project at my mother's abode. The railing on her porch was slightly demolished, so a few of us joined forces to remedy the situation. All went well and I returned home Wednesday afternoon. I spent Thursday catching up on laundry and getting our camper loaded. Then, Thursday night, Kennon and I headed up to Blackfoot.

Three events took place this past weekend that kept us all entertained. First, several of the menfolk gathered to help good brother, Jeffy, fix the roof of his garage. They started Thursday night.

They continued this effort the next day and were finished by Friday afternoon.

Friday was Kennon's 50th birthday, so after all the work was done, we gathered with numerous family members to celebrate. Hamburgers were grilled, salads were thrown together, and an interesting cake made an appearance. A good time was had by all as we celebrated this landmark birthday.

Here Kennon and I are posing with the balloons his sister, Jackie, gave him, and the fancy fillet knife I gave him for an upcoming fishing trip to Alaska.

Even our little granddaughter, Aari, seemed excited for this party.

Aari and I spent some time practicing to sing "Happy Birthday!" to Grandpa.

Aari was still fascinated by Grandpa's balloons the next day.

She also liked hanging out in the camper with Grandma for a while.

She also enjoyed getting to know her cousin, Tyce. They're fairly close in age.

Later on, we journeyed to a nearby reservoir\park for a picnic. Here Aari is showing her daddy the utensils she would like to use to partake of vittles. After we ate, the menfolk drowned a few worms while we women played fun games like Canasta. Yes, I lost big time--I must be losing my touch. =D
This weekend, we also celebrated our niece's graduation from high school with yet another barbecue feast. Here Cori is posing with her very good friend, Abi.

Wonderful food was grilled and consumed.

After the dinner, a rambunctious round of volleyball was enjoyed by our offspring. (We older types cheered them on from the sidelines.)

All in all, it was an enjoyable weekend. I think it's important to spend time with loved ones whenever the opportunity presents itself. Contrary to popular belief, these are not the ties that bind and gag, but important relationships that will link us together for eternity.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Side Effects

Between storms over the weekend, my husband and I ventured forth into a local canyon to check on the status of the ever-popular huckleberry. We had heard rumors that this year the bushes will be loaded with these plump, delicious berries, so we decided to check things out for ourselves. Along the way we came across some gorgeous impromptu waterfalls from all of the recent rain, and the snow that is still melting on the mountain tops.

This is a picture of Sherman's Peak, which you can still see contains a bit of snow on top.

This is a double waterfall that was quite spectacular.

And yet another waterfall that was gorgeous!

The ponds located on top of the world in this location, are filled to overflowing.

Here is another pond we found. Notice how green everything is around it.

And here the love of my life is savoring this beautiful moment of inspiring peace.

We did eventually find our favorite huckleberry patch. And the bushes are loaded with future berries!!! Way good news . . . providing it doesn't freeze.

And here's an interesting growth I found just as we were leaving.

It was an enjoyable jaunt, and proof that there are reasons for the numerous storms we've been enduring. It's almost dawn here in Bear Lake this morning, and the gathering clouds indicate more storms are on their way. I will more than likely carry an umbrella with me just in case, but instead of muttering under my breath, I will try to remember the beauty and growth these storms have inspired. Words to live by. ;)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Plug for Pickleville Playhouse

Yes, this is a shameless plug for a local business. Let me explain why---with the way the weather has been lately (rain, rain, and yet more rain) not to mention gas prices, the economy forecast as a whole, etc. it's pretty easy to get down in the dumps. This is when a good laugh becomes priceless. I experienced several hearty laughs, numerous chuckles, and a hardy guffaw last weekend compliments of the famed Pickleville Playhouse located south of Garden City on Bear Lake Boulevard. You can find the directions to this fun place here: Click me!

We bought tickets to see the production that was performed last Saturday night: "The Hanging of El Bandito." What a riot. I laughed from start to finish, and that's saying something. I love comedies, but it takes something really funny to get me to laugh out loud. El Bandito was hilarious!!!

The script was written by a talented young man, TJ Davis, who stars as Juanito Bandito. True, he borrowed a few lines from the movie, "Nacho Libre," and bragged about his stretchy pants quite a bit, but as a whole, the entire production was exceptionally well done.

I've attended other productions in this live theater, but this was by far my favorite. The musical numbers performed were impressive. The harmony was dead-on, and you could tell the actors and actresses were enjoying themselves thoroughly. So was the audience. That place was packed Saturday night and everyone had a wonderful time.

With this type of live theater, the audience is involved throughout with cheering, booing and hissing, and at times, active participation both onstage and off. I loved it when Juanito Bandito paused half-way through to make a point about cellphones, picking on the piano player off to the side. (Yep, most of their musical numbers are accompanied by a small, live orchestra.)

You will pay more for a live performance than you will to see a movie, but it is well worth the extra cost to see something this entertaining. So if you're looking for something to do that will lift your spirits and inspire side-splitting laughter, go see "The Hanging of El Bandito." You'll enjoy every minute of the performance, and you'll find yourself wanting to return soon to see it again.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Marathon Musings

This past weekend was a fun learning experience. I've heard about marathon races before, but I've never witnessed them in person until now. It started with my husband telling me that a friend of his from work was planning on running in a marathon race now held in Garden City, around the famed Bear Lake. Kennon thought it would be fun to go and cheer him on. Click here for more information regarding the annual Bear Lake Marathon. This marathon offers 3 races: the 10 K which is a little over six miles, the half marathon, which is 13 miles, and the regular marathon which is approximately 26 miles. This marathon race started last year with about 350 runners. This year that number doubled as over 700 runners took part.

I learned that a new friend of mine, Jody Shelley, was also running in this marathon, as was her husband, Doran, and their son-in-law, Jason.

As time went on, I further discovered that my cousin's daughter and son-in-law were running in this marathon race as well. And on the day of the race, I found out that three of my former Mia Maids were running in it together. All three are married and mommys now, which makes me feel slightly old, but c'est la vie. They were Mia Maids during my first go-around in the YW's organization in our ward. Now I'm working with all of their baby sisters. =D

Anyway . . . when we learned that Jody and Doran and their family would be camping in Garden City, and our original plans to go fishing and camping at Palisades fell through, we decided to camp in Garden City over the the weekend. Not only would this give us a chance to cheer everyone on during the marathon, but it also gave us a chance to meet the Shelleys in person.

Until this past weekend, Jody and I had only been in touch through our blogs and e-mailings.
It was wonderful meeting the Shelley clan in person and getting better acquainted. They are becoming treasured family friends and we're looking forward to future camping adventures.

We ate dinner together at a local pizzeria Friday night, and then bonded further by singing silly camp songs later on in camp. Doran plays a mean guitar, and since I happened to bring mine along, he was able to share his talents. We tried to get Jody to play us a ditty, but she bowed out. Maybe next time, eh?! ;) We sang through several songs together, then called it a night since we all had to be up early the next morning.

The Shelleys stayed at the KOA in Garden City. We had made reservations at a nearby campground called: Traveland. It wasn't as crowded and it is a wonderful facility. If any of you are thinking of camping in this area in the near future, I heartily recommend Traveland. (No, I'm not doing a commercial, I was just very impressed with this campground. True, there aren't very many trees, but it is tidy, and it offers full hook-ups for a reasonable rate in comparison to other campgrounds I could mention.)

The next morning dawned nice and rainy. =D Big surprise. But it did keep things cool for the runners. Kennon had decided to volunteer to help with the marathon since they were short-handed, and I decided to join him.

So while Kennon helped direct traffic to keep the runners from being splattered on the road as they approached the finish line, I did my best to remind the runners to show their numbers. For them to receive credit for the race, their assigned number had to be clearly displayed as they ran toward the finish line. It was raining, so a lot of the runners had placed jackets over this vital information. Someone needed to remind them to show their numbers, and I was asked to tackle this task. The challenge was to get their attention. Most of them were listening to music, tuning out everything around them. Good times! I figured out a sort of sign language to get my point across. There were a few that got past me without showing their number, but I tried. And yes, I looked like a drowned rat by the time the race was over. =D

Since I was a little bit busy as the racers came running through, I didn't get as many pictures of the runners as I would have liked. (Sorry about that, Jody!) I did get a shot of those three former Mia Maids of mine. Tammy, Julie, and Tricia ran in the 10-K and made really good time as they cheered each other on:

And I managed to snap a photo of RaKae Roberts Harris as her mother, my wonderful cousin, RaNae, cheered her on. RaKae had survived running in the 1\2 marathon---13 miles. Wow!!! And this despite a knee that was causing her grief. I was so impressed by her determination.

That was something I saw over and over again---people pushing themselves beyond normal endurance to complete this marathon. People of all ages, shapes, and sizes were giving this race everything they had. Most weren't running to beat the other runners, they were merely trying to complete the race as best they could. For them it was a victory to run across that finish line, no matter what their time happened to be. It filled their hearts with joy to know they had made it.

I saw tears coursing down their faces---I heard those who had already crossed the finish line, cheering for the runners who were still making their way forward. I felt like crying myself when I witnessed one runner struggling with everything he had to make those final few feet to the finish line. He was ready to give up, until one of the runners who had already completed the marathon, jogged by the side of this young man, encouraging him forward.

As this all took place, I found myself thinking about our earthly lives. We're all running in a mortal marathon. Some of us are only here in this human race (pun intended) for a short time. But those brief moments are just as precious, and just as important, as the races that go on for what seems like forever. It's important to remember that we're not here to compete with anyone else; we're here to improve ourselves, to grow and learn as best we can. It's important to cheer those on around us, to encourage others along the way. And we need to remember during those darkest hours, when we're ready to give up, we're not in this race alone. Those who have gone on before are cheering us on, running unseen at our sides, urging us to continue. Only after we've crossed that finish line, will we realize just how many people were cheering us forward. Then we will comprehend how much we've gained, and understand that the race was worth every pain we endured along the way.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Singing in the Rain . . .

I'm singing in the rain
Just singing in the rain
What a glorious feelin'
I'm happy again
I'm laughing at clouds
So dark up above
The sun's in my heart
And I'm ready for love
Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place
Come on with the rain
I've a smile on my face
I walk down the lane
With a happy refrain
Just singin',
Singin' in the rain!
(Lyrics by:Arthur Freed---Written in 1927)

Okay, maybe not. (See song lyrics above.) It has been raining for quite some time here in Bear Lake Valley. The moisture has been wonderful and things are greener than they've been in a long time. That said, I find myself longing for a sunny day. Since the weather people have indicated that may not happen for a while, I decided to share a poem I wrote several years ago when a similar situation occurred. My sons were quite young at the time, ages: 9, 8, and 4. Let's just say they were less than thrilled when their summer vacation began with several rainstorms in a row. ;) Enjoy!

Ode to Summer Vacation

The last bell rang, there was a jubilant cry—school had come to a close,
Delighted rapture filled the air--kids were excited right down to their toes.
My own children bubbled with vacation plans, endless adventures awaited,
How were we to ever guess it would not be as they anticipated?

It began to rain, it even snowed—at first, we were filled with bliss,
We indeed had prayed for rain, we thought we wanted this.
Three small noses pressed day after day against the window from sunup till dark,
Until one morning they wanted to know if we needed to build an ark.

“Is today the day we can go outside? Our puppy doesn’t know who we are!”
“How come we have to stay in the house? We’re not having fun so far!”
Coloring books weren’t exciting, Nintendo became unappealing,
The computer amused for a while, till their tempers hit the ceiling.

“Mama, he hit me!” “Did not!” Did too!” They scuffled on the floor.
“Can’t we go outside today?” I prayed but it continued to pour.
Then one day the sun peeked through, the clouds began to fade.
My children, how they frolicked, cavorted, and yes, played.

Suddenly from nowhere, the gentle breeze became a gale,
The residents of Georgetown could hear my three sons wail.
“Mom, we know it’s raining, but can’t we play a little longer?”
As I, the judge, debated, the storm moved in much stronger.

My children were now soggy, much to our combined dismay,
“Mom, we’re wet! It’s all your fault! You let us out to play!”
They tromped in the house, mud and water on my floor,
And all three more disgusted than they’d ever been before.

Videos failed to entice them, books did not impress,
They were having too much fun, being ornery and depressed.
Then one morning, the sun returned—and the clouds blew far away,
But my sons still weren’t speaking to me, they were in bed with a cold that day.

Cheri J. Crane

Monday, June 8, 2009

Enjoying Storms

I don't know what the weather has been doing in your neck of the woods, but it has been raining in ours almost nonstop this past week. The rain has made things green and pretty, and despite the storms, we decided to go camping for a couple of days.

Last fall we came across a campground we had never used before about an hour away from our house. It's located in the mouth of Logan Canyon, up above Bear Lake and it's called Sunrise Campground. If you ever get a chance to camp in this location, do it!!! It's gorgeous!!

Here's what our campsite looked like:

Since we had ventured off to visit with relatives after claiming our campsite on Friday afternoon, we didn't return to our campsite until about 9:00 p.m. It was raining and we were starved, so we opted to cook our hot dogs inside the trailer. They still tasted delicious, possibly because we were hungry. ;)

It rained most of the night and off and on the next morning. We were a little disappointed, since I wanted to capture a picture of the sun rising over Bear Lake, but it was too cloudy. So after a wonderful breakfast, also cooked inside our camper, we ventured forth between storms for a little hike.

Here's Kennon looking out over the valley below and the beautiful Bear Lake:

And this is what he was seeing:

After I took several shots of the area, Kennon caught a photo of me:

While he had the camera, he walked around a precarious outcrop of rocks and captured a beautiful bunch of wild flowers:

I appreciated him taking that shot, since I was sliding around a bit in the mud and with my track record of "grace" or the lack thereof, I wasn't sure I dared climb around to this location. As it was, I managed to lose my cell phone for a brief time. Our youngest son was driving up for lunch that day, and since we were up on top of a mountain, we were receiving pretty good cell phone service. I had tucked my cell phone inside of my camera case, on the chance that he might call. When I posed for that picture Kennon took, I slung my camera case over one shoulder and the cell phone fell out. Fortunately, I caught on that it was missing before we hiked away too far. Following my tracks in the mud helped a great deal with the search. I found the phone not too far from where I had been standing earlier.

We finished our hike and returned to our campsite to fix lunch. We had opted to cook Dutch Oven chicken and potatoes which we also did inside the camper to avoid getting wet. Kennon had brought along his Dutch Ovens, and we utilized the gas stove that came with our camper to cook up a delicious meal. I also sliced up some watermelon, our first of the season, to go with everything else. It was all wonderful and we ate as soon as Devin made his way up to our campsite.

All in all, it was a fun camping adventure, even if it did rain on us 80% of the time. We hiked in between storms, played games when it was raining, and enjoyed bonding with nature.

I had an analogy hit as we camped this past weekend. [No groaning allowed. ;) ]All of us endure storms in our lives. We don't enjoy it much when we're facing a trial, but it is those "life storms" that will inspire growth, strength, and beauty. It's up to us to appreciate what we've gained. And to cling to faith, knowing that a rainbow is just around the corner.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Embracing Quiet Moments

We live in a noisy world. And while I enjoy music, being around people, watching movies, or shopping as much as the next person, I find that I also crave quiet time. I tend to be more creative and to think better during tranquil moments. Hence I do my best writing in the early morning hours, before the phone begins ringing, before everyone else stirs for the day, and before life picks up speed.

I yearn to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. I'm very content to wander about, taking random pictures that strike my fancy. I'm sharing some of those today, photos that I took during the month of May. Someday I'm going to paint some of these pictures. It will be another serene activity that will instill a sense of peace.

Finding inner peace is often a difficult task. The world is filled with turmoil. The ability to access news 24\7 keeps us informed of every tragedy that is taking place. Very rarely are positive news stories shared. At the moment, the economy is spiraling out of control, there are indeed wars and rumors of wars, and violent acts of crime are on the increase. Despite all of this, we can fill our hearts and souls with calming peace.

Every day I spend time in prayerful meditation. I experience a calming peace as I share my current concerns with my Father in heaven. I also peruse the scriptures. It is indeed true that we speak to our Father in prayer, and He answers us through the scriptures. I've lost count of how many times I have found the exact phrase needed that helps me continue on with renewed faith.

I usually begin my day with a relaxing bath. Not only does this help my arthritic joints to move in a better fashion, it also provides me with an opportunity to read a chapter or two from a good book. =D

I then ponder all that I need to accomplish that day. Lately, I've been trying to curtail a few of those activities. I possess limited strength, compliments of this wayward body I've been blessed with, and I'm trying to adjust accordingly. I pay a huge price when I overdo. I suspect it's Someone's way of letting me know I need to slow down and smell the proverbial roses. ;)

Writing has always been a balm for me. I feel better on the days that I write. It helps me sort out my thought processes, and at times, vent and release bottled up stress. I also find that walking with a friend or family member is another great way to unwind. This summer, I will be walking most mornings with a good friend. We started yesterday and I couldn't believe the difference in how much energy I had for the rest of the day.

It is important to work hard, but I've learned that leisure activities are just as crucial. For me that includes playing in the dirt. It's healing to work in flower beds or a vegetable garden. I always feel better after spending time in both. As I pull out weeds, or plant new flowers, it somehow restores my sense of self-worth and accomplishment.

As I already mentioned, I thoroughly enjoy playing with my camera. It is a hobby that my father shared with me years ago. He taught 4-H photography one summer to encourage me to enjoy something he absolutely loved. It has been an important part of my life ever since. Very rarely do I travel about without taking along at least one camera to record "treasures," along the way.

Since we're all different, varying things will help us to relax. For some it may be fishing, camping, hiking, or dancing. For others it may lie in creating music. I've played the guitar and piano for years, both by ear. I love jamming with my family; this is a great way to secure important bonds, and to have a lot of fun. My tiny granddaughter is already showing a great love for music. She bounces in time as we play songs that have been in our family for years.

Something else that I love to do, is to put jigsaw puzzles together. I know this activity drives some people up the wall, but for me, it's soothing. I love looking things over and then finding the exact piece needed to fill in a gap. ;)

So while this world continues to be crazy, spend some quiet time doing those things that bring joy into your life. I can promise that it will instill the needed peace of heart and mind to survive this complicated era.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Parable of the Briar Patch

I suspect there are times in all of our lives when we feel the need to shift gears. This may happen when we realize that we’ve stumbled into a rut of epic proportions and it’s time to dig out and try a different path. Since I’ve always enjoyed imagery, I’ll share a bit of this now to illustrate my point.

Picture, if you will, a lengthy, meandering path, fraught with peril. Scenic beauty propels you forward, until you trip and land in a briar patch. The briars pierce your clothing and skin in an uncomfortable fashion, inspiring you to hold still. The more you move around, attempting to free yourself, the more intense the pain. The temptation is to never move, but to stay in place, avoiding untold misery. But if you remain in this position, you are stymied. There is no moving forward, no growth, merely stagnation. Only you can decide if removing yourself from this briar patch is worth the effort. Only you can choose to continue on.

There are a variety of briar patches that pop up in life’s pathway. Grief, disappointment, physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges test our very mettle. I’m finding in my own life, it is crucial to remove each briar, no matter how pain-filled, and to continue on, embracing the tests and joy that lie ahead. The adage: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” is indeed wise advice. I believe that we’ll be very disappointed with our earth-life experience if we avoid those paths less taken.

Someday we’ll all have to account for the lives we’ve led while in mortal mode. Will we be as the unprofitable servant who hid his talent to keep it safe? Or as the wise steward, who multiplied his talents as best he could? The loving Master, who bestowed these wonderful gifts, hoped they would be utilized to better the world and to help those around us. Each one of us must choose what it is we will do with this legacy.

As writers, we have a unique opportunity to share our gift of words. How we choose to do so is up to each individual writer. I fear there are times when we allow criticism to hinder us. Instead of using these moments as a chance to learn and hone our skills, we permit those barbed briars to pierce our skin and wound our hearts. Again, only we can decide to pull ourselves out of that patch and move on, refusing to be stifled. If words burn within, share them as you wish, embracing the chance to create, instill, and rejoice.