Thursday, February 26, 2009

Photostory Friday: The Story I Forgot to Finish

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Many moons ago, I told you a tale of faith and wonder -- but I only told you two-thirds of the story. 

(I apologize for the recap -- and the repeat pictures --  for those of you who have been here for the whole thing).

Last Spring, before we moved, the home we were living in had a big garden on the side of it. 

We are NOT gardeners.

So our next door neighbor worked the ground. Emma, almost five at the time, was fascinated with the daily process of growing and caring for the garden. She would spend hours walking through the garden with our neighbor -- peppering her with gardening questions.

Saying Emma is inquisitive is like saying the ocean is damp...

One day Emma came to me and asked if she could have some popcorn. I told her we didn't have any popped. No, she wanted the unpopped kernels -- she was going to plant them in the garden. 

I gave her eight little unpopped kernels of Orville Redenbacher's finest, and a pat on the head, and sent her on her way. I gave it not one more thought. Until she came to me several weeks later, and told me, excitedly, to come see her corn (looking back now, I realize that she was always talking about taking care of her corn - watering it and weeding it etc... -- it makes me wonder what else I'm missing). 

I actually put her off for a couple of days, because I didn't want to break her heart when I told her that what she was seeing were weeds.  I was wrong. 

What was growing in the garden was eight little stalks of corn, about three feet high. Much to the surprise of me, my wife, my neighbor -- maybe everyone but Emma and God -- the popcorn was growing. 

I knew you could grow popcorn, I just didn't know you could know...popcorn.

Even then, we wondered what the stalks would produce. It turns out, by late summer, they had produced about ten little ears of corn. We "harvested" them, dried them, and then stripped the corn from the cobs. And that's where we pick up the story:

When all was said and done, we ended up with about a cup and a half of very small corn kernels -- they were about half the size of the original seeds. But would they pop? 

Indeed they did.

This story is more emotional for me than I thought it would be. Such simple faith -- coupled with hard work (Emma did all the watering and weeding) produced such amazing results. 

Emma NEVER doubted that her corn would grow. She planted it and cared for it, just like you're supposed to. She expected results. And she got them. 

I am so proud. 

I am considering changing my profile picture, but I'm rather indecisive, so I'm leaving it up to you (the poll is in the top right hand corner of the page)

1. Indiana Jones. I'm a HUGE Indiana Jones fan (I may have mentioned that). This was me last Halloween. A dream come true.

I know, I know...

2. Emma and I, on the Farmington Trail. The picture is blurry, but I love it. Emma is the only one of my kids that still holds my hand when we walk. This is the only picture I keep on my desk at work. 

3. The Guitar. I like to look at this picture and pretend I'm a good guitar player. 

4. Wafers. I love these wafers. I would marry them, but we frown on non-traditional marriage in Utah.

5. The Current Picture. This is Jordan and me (taken by my son, with a little guidance from his father...) You can probably guess why I like this shot. 

If you were here yesterday, you know that I had a sixth picture, but I stupidly forgot to put it on the poll (thanks Corey!). 

Vote Early and Often. 

Pretend like you're in Illinois. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

365: Week 8 (and a poll...oooohhh! a poll!)

365: Week 8

By the end of this post you may be able to guess where I've spent most of my week...

Day 50

February 19: The day of the surgery. My wife's cancer surgery was performed at the University of Utah Hospital (much to the chagrin of my children -- apparently I've been a little too anti-U of U in my comments during football season, and it's rubbing off: Emma, who is 5, said if she saw one more red "U" she was going to gag -- what have I done? But I digress....), but the surgeon was from the Huntsman Cancer Institute, and that is where Sharon was moved for recovery. 

As you can tell from the shot of the front doors, this is no ordinary hospital. Jon Huntsman - father of our governor -- who built the place said that cancer patients are suffering enough, and he wanted them to be as comfortable as possible. The rooms are more like hotel suites (wood floors, private rooms, huge bathrooms, gorgeous views etc...) We feel so blessed to have this wonderful place in our own community. 

Day 51

February 20: Morphine. With all the tubes connected to her today, it was the one with morphine that Sharon loved the most. 

Day 52

February 21: The State Capitol. Our State Capitol building is the scene of a ridiculous circus right now (otherwise known as the 2009 Legislative Session -- or the Chris Buttars Freak Show -- but that's another post), but on a Saturday afternoon, on the way back from the hospital, it was practically empty. The building has recently been renovated (for more than a  year it looked like a giant roll of toilet paper), and this was the first time I had been inside, in several years. The light was absolutely beautiful. I would love to shoot bridals in here -- anyone getting married?

Day 53

February 22: Bella. Bella is my mother-in-law's little dog. She was abused and abandoned at about three months old. She was "rescued" by my mother-in-law, at a shelter that my sister-in-law runs in Georgia. Bella never barks, but is full of mischief, and has more energy than her little body can contain, and found instant love as the newest member of our family. 

Day 54

February 23: Most hospitals have some sort of ambulance helicopter service, and this is an Air-med chopper, from the University of Utah Hospital. I have never flown in one of these helicopters. I don't know anyone who has. But this week we benefitted from their services. 

Over the last week and a half, my wife has had one I-V after another. As each has failed, they have had to find a new spot. Sharon has very difficult veins, and consequently the process of putting in a new I-V is painful and long and has left her arms covered in bruises. 

When they ran out of arm space, the determination was made to put the next I-V in her shoulder. It turns out that the Air-med guys are the best at putting in I-V's, particularly the difficult ones. They gain this expertise from the necessity of often having to work quickly and in extremely difficult conditions. Today they called in Air-med to put the I-V in Sharon's shoulder. She said it was quick and painless. 

Thank You Air-med. 

Day 55

February 24: The view. This is what we see each night from Sharon's hotel (I mean hospital) room.

Day 56

February 25: Still here. We hoped to bring Sharon home Tuesday. We hoped to bring her home today. We hope to bring her home tomorrow. It's a great view, but the view from our back porch isn't too bad either. 

Tomorrow is the day.

Bonus Feature!
Okay Kiddies, I need your help. I'm considering changing my profile picture, so I've decided to leave it to you -- my loyal and misguided readers (why else would you be here, if you weren't misguided). I'll leave the poll up for a week. 
1. Indiana Jones. I'm a HUGE Indiana Jones fan (I may have mentioned that). This was me last Halloween. A dream come true. 

I know, I know...

2. Me and my shadow (and my wall). I was sick when I took this, that's my only explanation. You can't actually vote for this one on the poll, because I forgot to put it on there. Sorry.

3. Emma and I, on the Farmington Trail. The picture is blurry but I love it. Emma is the only one of my kids that still holds my hand when we walk. This is the only picture I keep on my desk at work. 

4. The Guitar. I like to look at this picture, and pretend I'm a good guitar player. 

5. Wafers. I love these wafers. I would marry them, but we frown on non-traditional marriage here in Utah.  

6. The current photo. This is Jordan and me (taken by my son -- with a little direction from his father...). You can probably guess why I like this shot. 

Be sure to vote early and often. 

Just pretend like you're in Illinois. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Photostory Friday: Sunrise (and an update)

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Killing two birds with one stone here:

I was tagged with a photo meme by Terri -- the retiree who sees the world in her own way, (does anyone know what meme means?). It is the infamous fifth photo from the fifth file (that's pretty good alliteration). So I decided to use the results as my Photostory this week, as I haven't had much time to think of anything else.

Here goes:

Sunrise. Mesa Arch. Canyonlands National Park.
The air is thin and crisp.

The dawn blazes across the eastern sky. 

Valleys of shadow are illuminated.

Stones are on fire. 

And suddenly, you just know, that this is the time. 

You have been granted a few moments in which to take beautiful pictures. 

A quick update on my wife:

Sharon had surgery today, and the tumor in her stomach was removed. In order to do so, they had to do a gastric bypass, and remove about 1/3 of her stomach. 

She's in a lot of pain right now, and probably will be for a couple of days, and will likely remain at the Huntsman Cancer Institute for about four days. 

Thank God for the Hunstman Cancer Institute.

The surgeon believes he got everything, and saw no sign of spreading. She should make a full recovery. 

I want to again thank each and everyone of you who have asked, and thought and prayed for my wife and our little family. You have made such a difference and been such a blessing in our lives. 

I thank you with all of my heart. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

365: Week 7

365: Week 7

Day 43

February 12: Where the buffalo roam. My wife called to tell me that on her way to work, she had seen, in a nearby field, a small herd of bison. You don't often get a chance to take pictures of bison, so I made a detour on my way home. 

These, of course, are NOT bison -- those animals (the largest land mammal in North America -- don't say I've never taught you anything) were gone. But in the far distance I could see something. It turned out to be four mule deer. 

I apologize for the quality of picture -- it was shot from very far away, as I was parked where I really shouldn't have been.  (I had a lot more to say about that picture than I thought I did).

Day 44

February 13: Friday the 13th, and this was the best shot I could come up with -- bare tree branches against the dawn sky -- it was a SLOW photography day. 

Day 45

February 14: Valentines Day. My wife had to work that evening, so we were planning on celebrating Monday night -- more on that later. But I was REALLY in the mood for a Mr. Goodbar. So I headed to Target.

It turns out Target doesn't sell Mr. Goodbar. 

I may have overcompensated. 

Day 46

February 15: The box with the frozen pizza in it said to remove the pizza from the box, cook for 14 minutes. But, the one direction my son missed was the warning: DO NOT MICROWAVE!

With carbon already the most abundant element in the universe, I wouldn't have thought he would have seen a need to make more...

Day 47

February 16: So our Valentines plans didn't quite work out. Early Monday morning, right after I got to work, Sharon went back to the hospital. The tumor has been bleeding and causing her to be extremely anemic. She ended up needing another transfusion. Hopefully that will all be taken care of tomorrow (the 19th) after surgery. 

Needless to say, my mind was elsewhere that night, and I almost forgot to take a picture -- but I think it's a habit now. As I sat at McDonald's on my way to the hospital, I noticed these odd purple leaves. 

Day 48

February 17: Atlas. I am not this guy.

But some days I feel like it. 

Day 49

February 18: Okay -- the first picture is not the one I took today. It's a picture I took in Moab several years ago. I was on the edge of 2,000 foot cliff. I consciously made the effort to create that image. It's one of my favorites. 

Today, on my way home from work, I just rolled down the window, stuck the camera out and clicked the shutter. 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Photostory Friday: The Fence

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

No philosophy this week, nothing deep. Just an odd obsession.

Have you ever found yourself inexplicably attracted to something?

I know, that's quite a question to ask two days before Valentine's Day. Go ahead and insert your own "signifiant other" joke here:

When we bought our house, about six months ago, it came with an old wooden fence around the yard. It's decrepit. It's weather beaten. It's falling apart. It will most decidedly NOT keep out the barbarian hordes. 

But, I love it. 

And I can't even say why. I think I feel sorry for it. 

I think it has character.

Every time I look out into the back yard, I smile at the fence. It's not going to last much longer, and eventually it will be replaced with a "better" fence -- and I guess that's just the way things go. 


I love the texture.

I love the length.

This shot reminds me of David Letterman...I'm not sure why.

It makes a great backdrop.

Can I build the "better" fence around the old one?

Is that weird?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

365 Week: 6

365 Week: 6

Day 36

February 5: Happy cloud. Did you ever watch Bob Ross on PBS? You know the guy with the monster afro, who could paint a scenic landscape in a half hour? His clouds were always happy. When I saw this cloud during the sunrise Thursday morning, I thought of Bob Ross. And I was happy. But I still can't paint. 

Day 37

February 6: So I've gotten in this habit of taking at least one picture each week, by pointing the camera out the window of my Bronco, as I drive home from work. You've probably noticed -- they all look pretty much the same. I'm thinking of making it a series. Anyway, I tried that Friday, but the camera kept focusing on the dirt on my window. 

Day 38

February 7: The fence in my back yard. I have no idea how many years it has been standing. This is probably not the best fence in the world. It probably won't last more than a couple of more years. I should probably have a nice vinyl fence installed. But I love the character of my fence. 

Day 39

February 8: Self Portrait. That IS my hand.

Day 40

February 9: WARNING! SOAP BOX! 

This is not the marquee at my kids' school, but my kids are off school this coming Monday too. I have a problem with this. Some holidays are family celebrations, and some are educational. At Christmas time, we gather together and we celebrate joy and family. We should be home with our families that day. School would not be the best place to celebrate Christmas. But what about President's Day? Are kids all over the country going to spend the day thinking about all the Presidents of the United States? 


It's the perfect opportunity for a day long civics class.  

Actually, for my money we shouldn't have President's Day at all. They don't all deserve to be celebrated. When I was a kid (back before dinosaurs became fossil fuel) the holiday focused on Lincoln and Washington. It should be that way again. You should have to earn a holiday -- even if you are the President of the United States. 

Ok, I feel better now. 

Day 41

February 10: In the years leading up to 2002, when the Winter Olympics came to Salt Lake City, there were a lot of odd, celebratory type things going on, all over the state. In the county I live in, we had a painted buffalo (actually it's a bison -- buffalo are only in Africa) contest. Several artists throughout the county were given a blank Bison statue, and told to interpret what Utah means to them. They were displayed at the Winter Games, and since then they have been scattered throughout the county. They are moved around from time to time. You find them popping up in the strangest places. This guy is sitting on the grass (or snow) at the county courthouse. 

Day 42

February 11: Last summer my wife signed up for a magazine subscription. It was from one of those people, from some other state, who come around to your house, VERY LATE in the evening,  with the story about how hard they are working to improve their lives, and pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and can't you please help? Well, my kind hearted wife took pity and decided to purchase a subscription. Besides, it was my son's birthday, and wouldn't it be great to give him a year long subscription to SOCCER MAGAZINE?

Well...apparently, SHAPE MAGAZINE was right  above SOCCER MAGAZINE on the list, and the salesperson checked the wrong box. And the customer service phone numbers we were given get us nowhere. So now every month, my son gets a magazine in the mail, with a beautiful, bikini clad woman on the cover. 

Have I mentioned that Matthew is nine? He's not even old enough to appreciate beautiful, bikini clad women.


What a waste. 

Monday, February 9, 2009

Catching up...

I've gotten a little behind on my blogging duties recently, so here are a couple of loose ends I need to tie up:

First of all, a big THANK YOU to Tabitha at I Choose Bliss, for the following award: 

Great Attitude and Gratitude

Tabitha is one of the most caring and unselfish bloggers I have come across. Her every thought seems to be of others. She has been such a positive voice in the events of the last few weeks in my family. I'm convinced that if God hears prayers, he hears Tabitha. 

Her blog is aptly named, and such an inspiration. She simply chooses bliss. What a bold and wonderful choice! Thank you, Tabitha -- for everything.

This little tag has finally caught up to me, thanks to Alisha,over at Izzy 'n' Emmy:

25 Random Things (you're going to wish I'd kept to

1. I am totally, and helplessly in love with my wife. 

2. I sleep with socks on. 

3. And slippers. 

4. I am a t-shirt and jeans/t-shirt and shorts kind of guy. 

5. I collect stuffed Opuses (or is that Opi? -- you know, the penguin from Bloom County).

6. I never liked Bloom County. 

7. I can't relax if the kitchen is a mess. 

8. I carry a pen everywhere. 

9. I like macaroni and cheese. 

10. I'm a Mac.

11. I play the piano by ear. 

12. I changed the side I part my hair on when I was 20.

13. I comb my hair with a broken comb.

14. I love the movie Mama Mia.

15. I wish I was a writer. 

16. I clear my schedule for 24.

17. Oooh, and Chuck. 

18. I secretly wish I was Jack Bauer. 

19. And Chuck.

20. I have a 10 foot, 12 plait, kangaroo skin bullwhip -- just like Indiana Jones. 

21. I also secretly wish I was Indiana Jones. 

22. I love generic grape soda. 

23. Home repairs scare me to death. 

24. I always clip my fingernails, on the drive to work, on Monday morning. 

25. I can't think of one more thing to write. 

And there you have it...are you still with me?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Things I did once...#3

When I was in high school, I was VERY concerned with my hair. 

It was the late 80's  - early 90's, when mullets ran wild and free. At that time I had quite a bit of hair, and to keep it perfectly coifed required a LOT of hairspray. 

No, I will not be posting a picture.

I spent many more minutes in front of the bathroom mirror, than you, or Dick Cheney, could get me to admit to. 

Anyway. One day I was at my dad's house -- having spent the night -- and was in front of the mirror primping and preening, getting every lock of hair just right. Then I reached for the hairspray, and sprayed. A lot.

Then I sprayed some more. 

A lot more. It didn't seem to be holding. 

Obviously I needed MORE hairspray. Spray, spray, spray sprrrrraaaayyyyyy, SSSSSPPPRRAAAYYYYYY!!!!!

It wasn't holding!

As I went for the ninth round of spray, I happened to look at the can I was holding in my hand.

But, you know what?

My hair didn't sweat once that day.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Photostory Friday: Fragile

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

This is Delicate Arch.

When I look at this Arch, I don't think delicate. I think fragile.

Even though it's huge, Delicate Arch conveys a sense of vulnerability -- as though it could be gone tomorrow. As though it teeters on the edge of existence.

In fact, it does.

As sturdy as you would imagine a giant, stone arch to be, by tomorrow it could be a pile of rubble. Or it could stand for thousands of more years. Arches National Park in recent years (including last summer), has lost two major arches, both of which seemed sturdier than Delicate Arch. It's all a matter of where the seismic hit comes from, and how hard the impact is.

Everything changes in an instant.

My wife has diabetes. I am relatively healthy. For almost fifteen years, I have lived with the idea that there was a good chance I would out live her. But we can see the diabetes, and she takes care of it, and so far has avoided major problems. She has stayed on top of the diabetes, because we know the dangers. We're also still young (okay, we're in our mid-thirties) and we think about life and death.

But, not really.

Then along comes cancer. Unknown. Undetected. Suddenly it's there, and it's the biggest, scariest thing in the world. I won't go into all the details again here, but I'll tell you, it rocked me to the core.

But, it looks like we've been given a second chance. We're feeling very good about where things go from here. I've come to face, and understand many things, one of which is: Life is fragile. One seismic shift changes everything. The difference between life and death is a breath.

2009 was going to be the year that I learned to put first things first. But so was 2008. Now everything is different. We've only got one shot at this.

Stop preparing to live your life, and just live it.