Saturday, May 30, 2009

Doe a Deer...

We have a guest: a doe who does not have a calf right now. She's hanging around our front and back yard. When we get too close, she retreats into the forest, only to come out again when she thinks we are not looking. I wonder if she is expecting soon, as she does have a little bulge around the middle...or does she suffer the same fate I do? Poor thing!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Star Valley

We are home in the Star Valley of Wyoming. Even for a veteran traveler, it's good to be at our home in the aspens. If you have been reading my blog for awhile, then you know the aspens do fall...and we lost one of the patriarchs. I miss it already. Since it was part of a group of 4 old aspens, I fear we might lose all of the group by the end of the summer. They like to be by their "friends." I want to thank Bob for cutting the tree into pieces so we could use the driveway. Good neighbors are a treasure!

Instead of trying to find the kitchen, we went to Billie's in Jackson for dinner. Both of us have been craving a Billie Burger all winter. It was good! Tomorrow we'll have to unpack the RV and start living at home again. There's a lot to do!

Monday, May 25, 2009


What a neat weekend! We visited Bill and Phyllis, and Teresa and Gus and Aunt Marion--we had a grand time. Thank you for putting out the welcome mat!

In addition to neat people, there's some beautiful scenery to see.

And this really neat truck!

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Sadly, I've been hacked! I do not know who or why, but it has happened. One of my yahoo email addresses has been hacked into by the Chinese. The email I had stored at the location has been compromised. Contacts that were stored at that location have been compromised too. I have asked Yahoo to shut the account down. I hope that will happen soon.

To protect folks who were listed on that webpage, I've changed the password and deleted as much information as I could. However, the page is now written in Chinese characters and I cannot understand what it says any more. SO, some contacts might still be there, and for this I apologize.

In the meantime, DO NOT USE L530@YAHOO.COM ANYMORE.

I know there is a lot of information on a webpage. I think of Facebook, Twitter, and the various profiles we all have on email accounts. Each one of those places has a wealth of information that can be used for both good and evil. I feel violated. Someone has some information about me that I did not wish them to have. Will it be used to hurt me? Will it be used to hurt my friends? I do not know that answer. Please take heed. It can happen to anyone. Protect your email accounts. Do not reveal too much information that can be used against you.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Today we drove from Bryce Canyon to Green River, UT. Most of the trip was on I-70, a major interstate highway, going through towns like Richfield and Salina that are very tiny. In Salina, we saw a sign that said "There are NO services between here and Green River, 100 miles away." We did not believe it. Then, we drove the 100 miles and discovered there were no services! There was some gorgeous scenery with lots of hoodoos, sentinels, chimneys and spires.

Tonight we are in Green River. There is a river! (It's not green.) That's about all there is too. We found 2 grocery stores (one without much food), several service stations, a few motels/hotels and 2 campgrounds. The next "big" town will be Grand Junction, Colorado, 100 miles from here. I wonder how big it is? I like small towns, but Green River is far too small and far too remote for me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Desert Flowers


Pink Cactus Flower

Sego Lily

Yellow Cactus Flower

Can you help me identify these last 2 flowers. All the pictures were taken in southern Utah at Zion or Kodachrome Basin. Thanks.

Kodachrome Basin--does anyone remember film?

In 1949 the National Geographic Society was exploring Utah and discovered a place with spires, chimneys, towers and hoodoos filled with color. They named it Kodachrome Basin (after getting permission from Kodak). Just 25 miles from Bryce Canyon, it's worth the extra drive to see this drop dead gorgeous place. Take a 'peak' at more Utah beauty.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

One Heck of a Place to Lose a Cow

That's what one of the first settlers in this area called Bryce Canyon way back when. Can you imagine trying to find a cow amid these hoodoos, spires, towers and arches? Not only are there a lot of strange formations, there's a lot of empty space out here. You can see for miles and not see the "hand of man."

As with Zion, there's a lot of color in the rocks, however the viewing experience is completely different. In Zion you have an up close, almost intimate, relationship with the cliffs as you are on the valley floor right next to them, and looking up in awe. In Bryce you are looking down the deep sided canyon seeing whimsical formations that should not be able to withstand time or erosion.

And, there are cheeky ravens!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mountain Majesty--Kolob Canyon

Today we drove the Kolob Canyon to the Kolob Reservoir in Zion. What a beautiful drive. The red sandstone cliffs and hoodoos were spectacular. Unlike the main part of Zion, the Kolob is not heavily traveled.

In addition to the mountains, there were wildflowers, including cactus flowers dotting the roadway.

As we drove past 8000 feet we were treated to mountain meadows, aspens, ponderosa pines and finally a reservoir. A good day in Zion communing with Mother Nature in the spring.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


We are in Zion National Park for the next few days. This is a wonderland of color: red walls, clear river, endless blue sky. I’ve been trying to take pictures that do justice to Zion, but I fear they are lacking.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ramblings about Lost Wages—errr I mean Las Vegas

Tonight we are in Las Vegas, or as my father-in-law called it “Lost Wages.” We’ll stay here 2 nights before heading to Zion National Park. (Zion will be a quiet compared to the hustle and bustle of this sin city.) In the meantime, we are camped at a KOA located on the Las Vegas Strip. We’ve not seen any CSIs running around, but we have seen a lot of lights and people. Just driving down the Strip is a delight for the eyes. Only here can you drive by the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the Coliseum, a sphinx, a pyramid, a medieval castle, the Doge’s Palace, and the Brooklyn Bridge and still be on the same street. Where else can you witness a volcano erupt, then walk a block and view dancing waters and lights paint the sky? It’s all over the top and a hoot!

Times might be bad, but there are a lot of people milling around. There’s also too much traffic for the street which is under construction yet again. The buildings are whimsical, colorful and jammed together. At first glance it does not look like anything natural can exist in this urban cacophony, but after careful scrutiny, there are trees and gardens too. There’s also gambling, which I guess, is the purpose of this oasis in the desert.

Tomorrow night we are going to The Phantom at The Venetian on the Strip. Tonight we tried to drive there, in order to pick up our tickets early, but found that was easier said than done. We did not pick up our tickets, as we could not find a place to park. Tomorrow we’ll take the people mover and leave the truck parked at the campground.

It’s interesting to see how Vegas has changed over time. The first time I visited Las Vegas was when Dwight Eisenhower was running for President (my that’s a long time ago). I remember a parade and my Dad talking to Ike and all of us shaking his hand. I remember a huge neon sign that said “Howdy Partner” and waved as we drove into town. It was small town then. Howdy Partner is nowhere to be seen; being replaced by mega-screens showing live video as you crawl down the Strip. With a pirate ship, a volcano, a flying saucer, a roller coaster and thousands of hotel rooms, Vegas is not the little town it was in the 50s. I wonder how it will continue to change and grow during the next 50 years?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Many Names of Mother

My mother passed away 11 Mothers' Days ago. I miss her with all my heart! She had Alzheimer’s Disease. No one deserves to have that horrible disease, and my mother was no exception. As she became more involved with the disease her world became smaller and smaller until it was a room in a nursing home where she could stare out a window. What she was seeing, what she was hearing, what she was thinking, what she was feeling, no one really knew. She seemed to communicate with her grandson the best. He was her delight and the feeling was mutual. He also lived closest to her and he saw her everyday in her little room that had a few family pictures and mementos harkening back to a time when she was vibrant and alive and hopeful.

As my mother’s world was diminishing to that tiny room, we noticed that she did not know her name anymore. It happened slowly. One day I said “Mom” and she turned around and asked, “Who is that?” That’s when it dawned on me that that my mother had a lot of names and in her state of confusion, she really did not know who she was. Was she living in a time warp, where her father and mother were still alive? Did she think she was now a child? Or, was she living in the “here and now” with a husband, children, grandchildren and friends? We did not know. She could not tell us!

That’s when I started to chronicle all the names my mother had been called over her lifetime. Her parents called her baby and Helen, and daughter. Her sisters called her ShaSha (a leftover from when they were girls and the youngest sister could not say “sister” and “shasha” came out). My sister and I called her Mom or Mother or Mommy. Her grandchildren called her Mommy Helen. Her husband of 59 years called her Hon or Honey. Her brother in law called her “Hel” (that is pronounced with a short “L” not Hellllll but Hel). Sometimes she was called Mrs. G, or maybe even Miss W. Her friends called her Helen. It was no wonder that she was confused. As her life passed by her she had several different identities; and now she was 81, sick with Alzheimer’s and confused. She did not know her name.

As a family we decided that we would call her by the name she seemed to recognize and that was Mommy Helen. No matter the relationship, she became “Mommy Helen.” We started doing this and the vacant stare that was on her face would show a bit of light. Was it recognition of her name? I hope it meant that she was thinking of her grandchildren and children that would cause that “smile.”

So on this Mother’s Day, I’m thinking of Mommy Helen and wishing her wonderful thoughts. I’ve been meaning to write this story for 11 years, and I’ve not been able to do it. I’m still not able to do it without shedding tears. She never heard us say good-bye to her, as she suffered a stroke that left her in a coma and three days later she slipped away to a happier place. The stroke was a blessing because Mommy Helen never wanted to be confined to a small room decorated with the trinkets of her life!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Minneapolis pictures

Take a peak at some pretty Minneapolis cityscape
Crystal Carp at the Sculpture Garden

Walking Thru the Green Houses at the Sculpture Garden

Spoonbridge and Cherry

Old Stone Arch Bridge, now for walking and biking

Guthrie Theatre with Riverside Reflection

Mighty Mississippi River

Old Flour Mill on the Mississippi

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I’m at the annual International Reading Association meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This morning I served as a discussion leader for a panel. Our topic was Censorship/Intellectual Freedom. If you think of this issue as 2 sides of a coin, censorship is the negative side where you are stopped from thinking and doing “things;” intellectual freedom is the positive side where you are asked to think critically about issues and events and come to your own conclusions. We had a lively discussion about the topic and that’s the purpose of such an event.

The rest of the time, I’ve spent looking at children’s literature, teaching approaches, advances in internet technology and the like. I’ve also spent some time exploring downtown Minneapolis, which is quite beautiful. The architecture contains a healthy mix ranging from post-modern to art-deco buildings. Downtown is alive and filled with people, businesses and restaurants.

Among the downtown skyscrapers is the Foshay Tower which is the 2nd tallest cement structure in the world (only a smidge shorter than the Empire State Building—which was the tallest) and it claims to be the first skyscraper in the city. I took a picture of it reflected in one of the newer taller buildings that now grace the cityscape. They say the Foshay was designed after the Washington Monument, but it has windows and a distinct art-deco bent so I think you need a good imagination to see any resemblance other than it is a plinth that is wider at the bottom than at the top.

As I walked downtown, I saw one building had an Egyptian Motif. Compare the Minnesota building with a glyph I found in Egypt. There are bas reliefs on one building reminiscent of the carvings found on temples and tombs in ancient Egypt.

The Mall of America is located in Minneapolis too. This is one HUGE MALL. Inside you can have fun in an amusement park with a roller coaster and several other rides; view sharks and turtles and other underwater denizens at the aquarium; play in LegoLand; see events happening in the different rotundas (I went to a robot competition); go to a movie; eat at a ton of restaurants; take a bus to a casino; and if you want, I guess you can shop. There are a ton of stores that just do not exist in my little hometown, so I had a grand time looking at them. I stayed till my feet started talking to me. It’s impossible to see such a mall in one swell foop (as it were).

There is a clean, light rail system that connects downtown to various parts of the city. I have ridden it twice and found it to be a good way to get from point A to point B without too much confusion. There are signs in the cars reminding folks to take care with the equipment, and people seem to follow the signs. The cars are clean; the upholstery is neat; there’s no graffiti, and I did not see any feet resting on the chairs. I was impressed. The fare was reasonable too with a 2.5 hour pass costing $1.75 for adults, and $.75 for seniors.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Minneapolis. I’ve liked the MSP International Airport for years, and now I have a similar feeling for the city where it lives.