Monday, August 31, 2009

First Annual Logan Scottish Festival

This past weekend Kennon and I attended the first ever Scottish Festival held in Logan, Utah. For years we've jaunted down to enjoy the Scottish Festival held in Payson, Utah and it has become an important tradition in our family. We are of Scottish descent (My main clan line is Napier, but we're also tied into the McDonald, Brown, Robertson, Young, Gibson, & Campbell clans or septs as well. My husband belongs to the Stewart clan.) so we revel in this celebration of our heritage.

On Saturday (August 29th) a Celtic Festival was held in nearby Logan and we had to check it out. We were very impressed with this first time effort. It was held at the American West Heritage Center located just south of Logan. There was a $7.00 cover charge per person but it was well worth the cost.

We met up with my mother and my sister, Trudi, who had driven up from Clinton, Utah to see this event.

We enjoyed watching the highland dancers.

And this young lady, Kelsey Crane, turned out to be Kennon's distant cousin. She has won several awards and is a nationally acclaimed dancer.
There were other performers, varying musicians that played a variety of Celtic music.

Then it was time for the mass bands and the gathering of the clans. The Scottish and American Flags were marched in, followed by the pipe bands which played magnificently.

After their performance, the clans proudly marched around the arena, displaying authentic clan garb and flags.

A small cannon was used to open this ceremony. Following the gathering of the clans, this same cannon was used to launch candy into the air for the children. If you look closely at this picture (click on it and it will become a lot larger) you can see the candy that was shot up into the air.

There were fun activities all day long. The highland games were a popular attraction. My mother, sister, and I enjoyed watching the men in kilts as they gallantly took part in these traditional festivities. ;)
We witnessed the traditional caber toss, which is a long, tapered pine that is tossed into the air.
We also watched the Scottish Hammer Throw, which was most impressive.
And there was also the traditional weight throw, which is thrown using one hand. As you have probably guessed the winner throws the heaviest weight the greatest distance. Most of the highland games are a test of strength and endurance.
We also watched an entertaining sword fight.

And there were numerous fun booths to savor. Some sold Celtic wares. My mother and I each bought beautiful celtic rings. Hers was made up of the traditional Celtic knots. Mine contains a beautiful moonstone, sided by the Celtic Trinity Knot. Trudi purchased a beautiful Celtic pin made up of thistle root. It has been processed to resemble polished rock. Some of you may know that the thistle is an important symbol of Scotland.

There were other fun booths manned by the differing clans. These booths contained a lot of information about their respective clans. This is a great way to gather important history about Scottish ancestors.

At the Logan Celtic Festival, they also offered brief historical presentations in the Opera House, which is part of the American West Center. We thoroughly enjoyed the Mountain Man presentation that was taking place when we wandered over to see the Opera House.

There were also delicious food booths featured at this year's festival. We selected the cuisine offered by the Holy Grille. The smoked meat and garlic roasted pita bread were wonderful, and well worth the wait. (By then there was a long line of hungry customers.)

All in all, this was a fun way to spend most of Saturday. We later jaunted down to Brigham City to hang out with Doran and Jody Shelley. Doran ran in the marathon race that was held in Logan the same day as the Celtic Festival. Since we weren't able to link up while we were all in Logan, we met them for peach milkshakes in Brigham City early Saturday evening. A good time was had by all. And I can guarantee that our clan will be making the Logan Celtic Festival a family tradition in years to come.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Crane Clan Gathering

This past weekend we camped in Lava, Idaho, at the annual Bob Crane Reunion. A good time was had by all. In lieu of a regular post I will post a few pictures to show you what we did.

Kennon and I went fishing Thursday night at Chesterfield Reservoir where I caught a 3 lb trout.

On Friday, the rest of our clan arrived and we ate a delicious Dutch oven dinner--smoked pork and Dutch Oven potatoes.

Volleyball was a fun pastime for several members of the family.

Others enjoyed riding the 4-wheelers around. Here my son, Derek, is taking his little daughter, Aari for her first ride. She didn't know what to think at first, but by the end of the ride, she was clapping and giggling.

Kennon preferred riding his nephew's motorcycle.

The traditional game of Phase 10 was also endured.

Saturday was extremely warm in Lava. So we went to play in the water.
Aari loved splashing in the refreshing river, and she found all kinds of neat rocks.
Several members of our clan floated the river to cool down. Others went to splash in the pool.
We camped at a neat place known as Smith's Trout Haven RV Park. Our camping spot happened to be next to the playground equipment, something the smaller children loved, including my granddaughter.
I think everyone had a good time this year. Lots of good food, fun visits, and laughter. And to me, that's what a reunion should be.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Look and Live

Lately I've been thinking about storms. Some come quickly into our lives, blowing in without warning, leaving as quickly as they arrived. Others reveal themselves long before they descend, giving us a chance to prepare, to brace ourselves to survive.

There have been many storms in my life---numerous challenges that descended without warning. One example: following the birth of my first child, a series of blood clots formed in the main vein of my left leg. The largest clot was the size of a golf ball and all of them were in a direct line to my heart. I was told by my doctor that my life was threatened by their presence. As such, for 10 days, I had to lie very still, giving them a chance to dissolve, and\or anchor themselves with scar tissue--to preserve my life.

Those 10 days were among the longest that I've ever endured. My baby went home without me---he was cared for by my mother and husband.
As I lay there that first day, I was filled with resentment. Wasn't this supposed to be a time of joy? Instead of going home to enjoy and love my newborn son, I had to remain in the hospital---for 10 days!!! So at first, I didn't take the warning seriously that I had been given. I was in pout mode. When I dropped the remote to the TV, I leaned over the bed and retrieved it from the floor. If the phone rang, I leaned over the other direction to answer. A little while later when an inexperienced intern arrived with a wheelchair and asked me to climb out of bed and into it for a ride to the x-ray lab, I obeyed. I reasoned that he must know what he was doing, and away we hurried down the hall to the x-ray facility.

When we arrived and the intern told me to climb up onto the cold metal table, I did just that. Then the x-ray tech arrived, looked at my chart, and freaked out.
"HOW DID YOU GET UP THERE?" he roared. When I answered, he freaked out again. "DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND HOW DANGEROUS THIS IS?!!!" Once again I received a lecture on the evils of moving around with blood clots in my leg. I tuned it out, deciding that I had been moving around just fine without any negative consequences. These people were making a mountain out of a molehill.

I did feel sorry for the intern who was waiting out in the hall with the wheelchair. He received a Scotch blessing from the lab tech and I overheard most of what was said to the poor young man. It wasn't very nice.

After the series of x-rays were finished, four nurses made an appearance with a gurney. They each carefully lifted one of my limbs, gently placing me on the gurney. I'm almost certain I was rolling my eyes during the entire ordeal. Then slowly, carefully, I was pushed back to my room which was now next to the nurses' station. All four nurses cautiously picked me up, and placed me on the bed. Once again I was warned to avoid all movement---everything would be done for me, yada, yada, yada.

By then, I was truly feeling sorry for myself. I was angry, frustrated, and bored. Then the unthinkable happened. Another woman who had developed blood clots following a c-section was being transferred to the x-ray lab. Unlike my earlier adventure, all precautions were taken to gently lift her from her bed to a gurney. Then as she was carefully pushed down the hall toward the x-ray lab, one of the clots hit her heart. This happened right outside of my room. Suddenly, my door was slammed shut and I heard an alarm sounding over the intercom. Even with the door closed, I could hear a lot of commotion taking place. Several minutes later, all was silent.
Nearly an hour later, my doctor opened the door to my room. There were tears in his eyes as he revealed that the other woman had passed away. Despite every precaution taken, she had lost her life. Once again I was given a lecture on just how dangerous my situation was. This time, it sunk in. I was terrified and I hardly dared to breathe.

Those 10 days were horrible, and yet, they were a Gethsemane moment for me. I discovered the importance of relying on the Lord. Daily, I prayed that my life would be preserved so I could raise my little boy. Priesthood blessings gave me much-needed assurance that I wasn't in this battle alone. And slowly, bit by bit, the storm passed by. I survived. Battered and somewhat bruised, I hobbled out of the hospital ten days later for the return trip home. Sadder but wiser, I had learned lessons not possible any other way, grateful for this second chance at life.

In today's troubled world, we are all facing numerous storms. They batter against our defenses, weakening us in places we never dreamed would crumble. I can testify that the only way we will survive this daily bombardment is to do those simple things that will bring us needed peace of heart and mind. Read the scriptures daily. Pray daily. Attend the temple as much as possible. Heed the important commandments and standards that we've been taught our entire lives. Steer clear of temptations that will drag us down into the depths of despair. Adhere to those things that will bring us the most joy.

A few years ago I taught a Sunday school class for teens. At the time, we were studying the Old Testament. We spent several Sundays in a row learning about the trials that Moses and the children of Israel endured. One story has always struck a chord within. During a time when the children of Israel were in whining mode, complaining about their lot in life, turning their backs to those things that would bring them joy, God sent fiery serpents into their midst to teach them a lesson. If bitten by these serpents, they could die. It took something that drastic to inspire humility and repentance. When that finally happened, Moses was instructed to fashion a brazen serpent and affix it to a staff. The only thing the Israelites had to do was to look upon the brazen serpent and they would live. Look and live. Sadly, despite the simpleness of the way, many turned away from that which would have spared their lives. They turned from God and died. What they failed to understand was this is symbolic of how our Savior, Jesus Christ, can preserve our immortal souls. It is up to us to accept His sacrifice on our behalf. (See Numbers 21:4-9; Helaman 8:13-15; 2 Nephi 25:20; Alma 33:19-29)

All we have to do is look and live. We must turn from foolish pride, and humble ourselves enough to understand all that our Elder Brother has tried to teach us---then we will find the happiness we seek.
I know this is how we will survive the darkened skies of today. Look and live. Allow our Savior to heal us through His Atoning sacrifice. I'm living proof that when we place our lives in His very capable hands, we will survive whatever storms descend.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Yes, this is a stroll down memory lane. ;) Sorry about that, but I've been thinking about a pageant experience from my high school years. There is a reason why I've pondered this event in recent days. Earlier this summer, I was asked to write the script for this year's Miss Bear Lake Valley Pageant. It took some doing, but I was able to complete it on schedule, despite several last minute changes.

I've never written a pageant script before. I've written countless roadshows, camp skits, a musical for the YW I served with a few years ago entitled: "The Adventure of a Lifetime," and it was; a Christmas musical for the tri-stake area, and a community Christmas production. Writing a pageant script was a new experience for me. As I struggled to pull it together, I began reflecting on the one time I endured a pageant adventure.

I had never planned on participating in a pageant. But when it came time for the 1979 Jr. Miss to be crowned, a couple of good friends talked me into vying for the title. They made it sound like this would be the greatest experience of my life. I believed them, especially when they pointed out that I would have a chance to hone my talents.

A budding performer, I embraced this opportunity to write and sing one of my own songs. Singing and songwriting was something I had been dabbling with for years, and this seemed like the perfect chance to see what professional judges thought of my abilities. And there was a chance at a scholarship that was offered through this venue which was also tempting.

I wasn't thrilled over the idea of dancing in public. Blessed with two left feet, I was very concerned about this portion of the program. But my friends assured they would help me practice until I got the hang of things. I pointed out to them that there were reasons why I didn't do things like march with the drill team. The one time I tried out for this organization was an adventure in humiliation. I always seemed to be doing the opposite of everyone else. It's a gift, I know, to march to the beat of a different drummer, but this tendency of mine was not appreciated by the woman who was the adult adviser over the drill team. I was quickly cut from the team during the tryouts. I tried not to take this personally, and went on to participate in other activities that didn't require me to be graceful, like drama, journalism, Honor Society, and the entertainment club---an organization that provided entertainment at dances, assemblies, and so forth.

True to their word, my friends helped me learn the dance we were to perform during the night of the pageant. I spent hours trying to catch onto the dance steps, and finally, after several frustrating practices, I could almost dance as well as a lame duck. ;) Maybe a little better than that, but I knew that dance routine would not be my strong point.

For weeks, I had been told by the other contestants, the adult advisers for this event, and anyone else who had been watching us practice, that I had the talent award all sewn up. I believed them, and worked extremely hard on preparing for that portion of the pageant.

All too soon, the pageant week arrived. One by one, fourteen of us were interviewed by the judges. I felt extremely tongue-tied during my interview. I was scared to death by the frowning set of adults who faced me in a semi-circle. I was asked questions about my current interests, future plans, and personal preferences. When I was asked who my favorite author happened to be, since I had listed on a form I had filled out earlier that I loved to read, I blew it. That should have been an easy answer, since at that time in my life, my favorite author was Agatha Christie. Instead of sharing that information, I hesitantly stuttered that I thought Erma Bombeck was hilarious. While that was a true statement, and I enjoyed her books, she wasn't my favorite author. I was tempted to kick myself when I left the room that afternoon. I had allowed a tendency to be shy to hamper my interview. Instead of exhibiting confidence, I had displayed terror. Most uncool.

In way of good news, I had two very pretty dresses to wear. Both were extremely modest formal gowns. One was light blue with long sleeves and a high neck. The other was a Gunnie Sax design, for those of you from that era. It was a beautiful dress that you can see in the picture below.

This dress had wonderful lacy sleeves, and yet another high neck. I'll admit it--I was a teenage prude. I wasn't comfortable wearing anything that even smacked of being immodest. It may have been part of my shy nature, but that's just who I was . . . and who I am today. I've never been one to wear anything that causes embarrassing discomfort. Unless you count the times I've dressed up to render silly singing telegrams . . . but I digress. ;)

Back to the pageant adventure . . . the big night finally arrived. We had been told that we would be paired to walk in with members of the high school basketball team. I don't know who paired us up, but I was assigned to walk in with one of the tallest members of the team. This kid was well over 6' 8", and since I was only 5' 2", I was about eye level with his belly button.

Now, bear in mind, this was 1979, and platform heels were all the rage. That night I was wearing a black pair of platform dress sandals that looked sharp with both dresses. They elevated me to nearly 5' 6". I didn't realize these factors would collide into disaster. As I was escorted from the back of the auditorium to the stage at the front of the room, my arm at an uncomfortable angle since my escort was still a foot taller, I managed to step into the hem of my new blue gown with the platform heel of one sandal, and I face-planted it in front of everyone. For a few seconds, I wished for the floor to swallow me. Then I was tempted to kick my escort on the leg. He just stood there and looked at me, while the audience tried not to laugh. As I managed to rise to my feet, he then gallantly took my arm and hustled me up the stairs to the stage. I heard later on that he was mortified over how I had embarrassed him. Ah . . . a true gentleman. ;)

That was an indication of things to come. While I didn't fall down during the dance as one poor girl did, I was still off here and there with the differing dance steps. I hoped no one would notice my continued lack of grace, and I psyched myself up for the talent segment of the evening. Fortunately, my song went better than I had expected. The audience cheered loud and long after my performance, giving my ego a much needed boost. The rest of the night passed quickly and it was finally time for the winners to be announced.

They started with the specialty awards. When it was finally time for the talent award, I waited eagerly. The emcee said quite loudly, "And tonight's talent award goes to Ch . . ."

I knew all of my hard work and humiliation had been worth it. Gathering my courage, I stepped forward to accept the award.

"Ch . . . ari Salter!"

Once again, I wished to be swallowed by the floor. Instead, I graciously shook the hand of the young woman who had won the award, and retreated back to my place in line with the others. When I thought about it later on, Chari really had deserved the talent award. She had performed a singing and dancing routine from a musical production, and she was the epitome of confidence. She had scored the highest with the interview and the talent segments, and she was proclaimed Ashton's Jr. Miss in 1979, going on to represent our school in the state competition. She was awarded the Miss Spitfire award in Boise, doing her best to bring a sense of pride to our small town.

I'll admit, immediately after the pageant in Ashton, I felt disappointed. One of my close friends had placed as the first runner up, and I was thrilled for her (she was one of those who had talked me into participating in the pageant) but it stung knowing I had failed to win anything that night. But when my friends and family came backstage to congratulate me on how well things had gone, (I know, they were being exceedingly kind) my spirits lifted. I knew I had given the pageant my best. Some things hadn't turned out as I had envisioned, but I had learned so much from that experience. Among other things, I learned to laugh at myself. My friends and I would laugh about that pageant for years to come, as we relived my less than shining moments. And so many people talked to me later on about my talent number, it made me feel like I had accomplished something fairly neat.

Because I had been courageous enough to take part in that pageant, a few months later, I was asked to write and sing a special musical number for my high school graduation. That was a highlight of my high school days, and that opportunity was the direct result of my efforts during the pageant.

It is my hope tomorrow night, when the new Miss Bear Lake Valley is crowned, that all of the girls who are participating will come away with a feeling of self-worth, regardless of the outcome. They are all winners in my book, for possessing the courage to get up in front of a crowd to perform. It is these type of experiences that shape our characters, and help us to discover who we really are. And when we embrace the new growth that can be ours from these learning experiences, it doesn't matter who walks away with the crown.

Monday, August 3, 2009

"Oh, Canada . . ."

I've felt quite an affinity for Canada for years. It began while I was in college. While attending Ricks College, I became good friends with a young woman from Toronto. Sandy's apartment was in the same complex where I dwelled with my roomies. Our two apartments became fast friends and we did a lot of fun things together. Sandy did her best to educate us about all things Canadian. We quickly learned to use the term, serviettes, when talking about napkins. Words like "about," were pronounced "aboot." Sandy also enticed us to try interesting food snacks like salt and vinegar potato chips. It took some time, but we eventually grew to love that tangy flavor.

In an interesting coincidence, my brother served an LDS mission in Canada. He was called to serve in the French-speaking Montreal--Canada Mission and he spent a lot of time in Quebec. He fell in love with the Canadian culture and foods like poutine. We learned about important Canadian traditions from Tom's experiences in the Montreal area.

Then in February of 2007, my youngest son sent in his mission papers. He was called to serve in the Edmonton--Canada Mission. Once again we were given a chance to appreciate the Canadian culture, this time through Devin's eyes. Devin absolutely loved Canada. He still misses it greatly and he was thrilled to learn that a family he had worked with closely while serving in the Sherwood Park area, just outside of Edmonton, was coming to the States for a visit.

Katie and her two daughters, Elizabeth and Olivia, drove down from Canada on a quest to visit several LDS sites in Salt Lake City, and to see some of the missionaries (those who had returned home) who had had a hand in their conversion to the Church.
We were excited to learn that these three were coming to Bear Lake to see Devin and to spend some time with our family while they were in the States. They arrived on Friday night, and stayed until Saturday afternoon.

It was so great to get acquainted and to swap stories about Devin\Elder Crane. ;) We also did some fun things like sing along with the karaoke machine they had brought along. We stayed up late visiting, then had a big breakfast the next morning, featuring homemade huckleberry pancakes with chokecherry syrup. This seemed to be a hit with everyone.

Devin then showed off his drumming skills and played an awesome drum solo that made our ears ring appropriately.

Later on Saturday morning, Devin taught Elizabeth and Olivia how to drive our 4-wheeler, which is known as a quad in the Edmonton area. The girls loved this experience and they even talked their mother into going for a ride up toward the hills behind our home. Then, after a quick bite of lunch, it was time to move on.

We were sad to see them leave, but they were expected in Montana that night to visit with yet another former missionary who had touched their lives. It was a great trip for them. They were able to see Temple Square, the Conference Center (which amazed them---they had no idea how big it really is.) and to attend the open house for the Oquirrh Temple. One of their favorite activities was to float Provo River. Another seemed to be buzzing around on our 4-wheeler. =D

As we visited, it hit home to me just how much we take for granted here inside the "Mormon Bubble," area. Katie mentioned how stunned she was by the number of church houses she saw in both Utah and Idaho. She also couldn't believe how many temples we have in our neck of the woods. We are truly blessed---something I suspect we forget as we strive to keep up with our crazy lives.

All in all, it was a wonderful couple of days. We will treasure the friendships formed and we look forward to future gatherings. Though our Canadian friends live quite a distance away, we'll be able to stay in touch compliments of things like cell phones, e-mail, Facebook, etc. It truly is a small world after all.