Monday, December 19, 2011

And he shall turn the hearts of the Fathers.....

Some days you make a little change, and you find out it isn't so little.  Often times we remember something that we did that caused us problems or discomfort....and I guess that is how we learn not to do a host of stupid things.  But sometimes the result is for the good, or is an epiphanal moment when you see things differently from that moment on.

A few days ago I was surfing  the net and turned to FamilySearch.org and began looking up some of my ancestors.  I didn't have to go very far back to run into Charles S, my step-grandfather and despised black sheep of the family.  I have to say that I think he earned every ounce of malice that has come his way.  He was a horrible man, and made my dad's early life, and that of the rest of his family a living hell.  But I was curious. 

All that I knew was that Grandma had married him in Kansas City - I don't think anyone even knew the year.  We knew he was older, alcoholic, given to gambling, given to child beating, wife beating, and not so good at holding a job.  All in all, not a great legacy.  But still, I was curious and began so search a little.

I quickly ran out of information, but there was an option to search outside links, and so I clicked that link and was directed to Ancestry.com.  You have to pay to use their site, but they had a 14 day free trial, so I signed up and began the search anew.  And hit pay dirt.

In the 1900 US Federal Census we find the family living in Prairie, Wyandotte, Kansas.


James D. S (husband) 54 years old
Mary B. S (wife) 43 years old

Sarah F.  13 years old
Robert L. 10 years old
Charles W. 7 years old (Later to grow into the man we knew, or knew of)
Delila L.  4 years old
Le Roy (Roy) L. 2 years old.

James was from West Virginia, and he was born in January1846.  Mary Bell was from Indiana.  She was born in August of 1856.  Don't do too much math on their ages and birth dates - I think that was fairly casual.  The age difference between James and Mary varies depending on which census you are looking at.  He lived to be at least 75, and she lived to be at least 63.

If this is true, or partly true then all of a sudden Charles doesn't seem so strange.  His dad was a rough, redneck hill billy from West Virginia, I imagine.  He probably drank and beat his family with fine regularity, although this is purely my conjecture.  James was older than his wife by at least 10 years as Charles was 10 years older than Emily. I think it is likely that James dominated Mary and the children in a strict and physical way and was probably the role model for those children.  This was how the man of the house ruled the roost.  This was his right.  And so it would be natural for Charles to grow into the type of man that he knew.  Unto the third and fourth generation.

I look back on my dad's early life and am amazed that he broke through the abuse that he lived with to become a decent, God fearing man who did his best to foster all of his family from the time he was a little boy and gave his mother his sugar beet check, until he was an old and sick man who was ready to die and wanted only to be a guardian angel for his children and grand children.  For this, I have to think that he used his Grandpa Starck for his model.  The Starcks had their share of characters, but they were a hard working family with deep religious roots.  They made mistakes, but by and large they stuck together through thick and thin, and they kept their family together. 

Well, it is late, and I have rambled for quite a while.  But it was a good thing for me to learn about Charles as a boy, and to have some idea of the home that he came from.  It's a lot easier have a little compassion  for the 7 year old boy on the census record, and who probably led a pretty tortured life.  And Christmas is a good time to have a little compassion anyway.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The House We Didn't Buy (Whew, That Was a Close One......)

As you leave I -215 Eastbound and turn onto I-15 Southbound and buzzing along at 60 mph or so, you think you are on the Interstate, but actually you are not.  You are on sort of a pre-Interstate, and if you aren't careful you will be in the left hand lane, and find that you are exiting onto the Veteran's Memorial Highway, and will be dumped off at 7200 S.

Many highways have similar little traps - poor signs, missing signs, or maybe you just aren't paying attention at a critical moment and before you know it, you are headed down the wrong road.  Mostly it isn't too hard to get back on track, but occasionally the new road will wind for miles before there is an exit, and backing up just isn't an option.  It generally isn't considered wise to stop and turn around and drive against the traffic either.

Life is a little like that....you are buzzing along, and you see a sign, and you think: Hmmmm..... never been there before......that sounds like fun, and you click your signal and take the detour.

In 'The Magician's Nephew' (C.S. Lewis), Polly and Digory find themselves magically transported to another world.  There is a table in front of them, and many richly dressed people frozen into statues.  At the end of the table there is a little bell, and a sign on a pillar that read:

Make your choice Adventurous Stranger, strike the bell and bide the danger,  or wonder till it drives you mad, what would have followed if you had.
 Our neighbor's spirit is stronger than his body, and several months ago he left his home to live where he could receive more care. So now that house is empty - no neighbor wondering what we are up to and  sweeping our dark yard with a five million candle power flashlight (The Cyclops - seriously - the light itself is about 10" in diameter), just a quiet, dark house.  And so we wondered what would happen to the old house with the big trees and the the big garden, growing up in weeds instead of squash and tomatoes.  I thought about it a good deal, and frankly coveted the garden and the water shares that came with it.

Our neighbor is an interesting guy, he has been the local refrigeration expert in Sweet Haven for quite a few years.  He could fix any appliance, and even after his sight failed him, people would drive for hours (over 100 miles one-way)  to take him back to their farm or ranch and fix the ailing machine.  They would wield the tools, and Harding would guide them...."Follow those wires down, down, they go through a little grommet and you have to get to the other side of that.....that's right.  Now check the connector.....is it in tight?  Do any of the wires seem loose?  Are any pinched.....ahhh, the red one.  OK, now..........." and in a while the recalcitrant machine would be vanquished and they would drive him back home.

Harding served an LDS mission when he was a young man - without purse or scrip as the saying goes.  He had no funds, and depended on the kindness of strangers for his bread and bed while he roamed the wilds of New England and taught the Gospel to anyone who would listen.  In his youth, before WalMart and Cabela's he was a Boy Scout.  Back then you had to make your own gear and he did.  He made a bedroll out of canvas and blankets, and he sewed his own tent.  AND then he water-proofed it.  Water-proofed it with paraffin dissolved into hot gasoline and painted onto the canvas. That must have been a day.  There must not have been any static electricity in the air that day, or the tent would have become a fireball.


We came near to buying the house.  The family did everything they could do to make the purchase easy and affordable for us, but in the end.....just as traffic was merging and we would have taken that different road, we changed lanes and continued our journey on the road we are familiar with.  We worried that it might become a rental, and that a bunch of Pit-Bull raising Hell's Angels would settle there and we would have nothing to say about it.  It looks like a very nice family that we are close to is going to buy it.  They have an active family, he is very handy and a good craftsman and they will make it a beautiful home full of active children.  So I think what happened was a family found the home they were looking for, and possibly the home found the family that it needed to repair and maintain it.

When we travel, I usually drive, and Annie navigates.  I'm grateful to her for listening to her heart and keeping us headed down the right road. It is so easy to get side-tracked.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Our Newest Lake Powell Adventure

This year's Lake Powell Messabout/Kokopelli Cruise was to be a 5-7 day sailing event starting at Bullfrog marina, and ending at Hite.  For a variety of reasons many of us found that we we not going to be able to spend the time to make the trip, and one by one a substantial number of potential cruisers had to bow out.  We were among the whimps, and decided that in lieu of a 7 day trip, we would make a 5 or 6 day trip, arriving on Monday, and leaving on Friday. We didn't quite make it - we left Wednesday night, and ended up not seeing anyone from the Messabout group.  Here is a letter that I sent to one of our Messabout friends in response to his query about our missing the party:

Hi Kellan,

Scattered Showers Forecast.....
We (Anita, her sister Janet, and brother-in-law Scott and I) were in the area, but we should have waited until Wednesday or so to launch.  We got to Hite on Monday night about dusk, hurriedly launched the boat and made a full speed run down channel,  trying to get to Four Mile Camp before full dark.  You won't find Four Mile Camp on any map, that is just what I'm going to call it. It's the point where we made the first camp in 2009 on the way to Good Hope Bay and is a little more than four miles down channel from Hite, and East of Farley's Canyon.

But it got too dark, and we found ourselves in a little steep walled canyon about 3 miles down canyon from Hite.  The moon hadn't come up yet, and it was pretty dark.  We tried to set an anchor, but canyon walls were really steep, and we couldn't find the bottom.  There were no beaches to speak of, and it kept getting darker and darker and fairly windy as well.  Finally we found a little spit of beach and backed the boat into it and put two bow anchors back into the dirt  on shore and slept on the boat, stern on the mud, and bow in the water.  But it worked.  The wind died down, and the anchors held and it was OK.  We were all pretty tired and made a cold, simple supper of dutch ovened chicken sandwiches - a little bread and a little meat, and then some fruit.  Janet also made some great little peanut butter balls with peanut butter, honey and dried milk.  They were a great desert and picked us up several times when we were tired.

Four Mile Camp

Tuesday morning we went down channel and made a camp at Four Mile Camp.  There was a lot of drift wood, and with the drift wood came some fine detritus that washed onto the beach.  We didn't really notice until evening, but with the detritus came a LOT of flies.  As night settled on us I was watching the clouds and they seemed to be not going away, but building into threatening proportions.
A related story that kept us from having good weather information:  On Saturday (Sept 10) night some vandals in Salt Lake were trying to steal copper wire and cut a fiber optic cable instead. We woke up in Millard County on 9-11 with no long distance, no cell phones, and no Internet, and consequently, no real weather forecasts.  Scott had checked the weather  before they came down on Sunday and said that the forecast called for 'scattered showers.  I always thought 'scattered showers were the same as afternoon thundershowers.  That impression is not true. Scattered showers are not the same forecast as scattered thundershowers. As we cooked supper and sat around the fire, we could see the storm continue to build by the moon light, and the wind started blowing from the West.  We were anchored in a little cove so that we would be sheltered from a South wind, but with the wind from the West, we were getting blown around pretty well, and the waves were hitting us broadside with no protection.  Our prevailing winds are oriented North-South as you well know, but at Lake Powell, I think they can come from any direction

About  5 in the morning the rain started and the wind and waves picked some.  The forecast put the wind speed at 5-10 mph, but I think that must have been a weekly average.  We managed to put up a boom tent and make things fairly snug and the flies were gone as long as the wind blew.

Makeshift Boom Tent at Four Mile Camp

Really, things were not too bad, but when wind would die down the flies would come back, the girls voted that we find another spot.  So we had breakfast and broke camp, loaded the boat headed out into the lake. 

I had two gas cans, newly filled for our little outboard.  The plastic one is the one that I used last year, and the one I had tested the motor with before we left, and the one that we had used so far.  We were contemplating a run down to Good Hope Bay, and I thought I should test out the second can of gas and so made the switch.  There must have been some kind of crud in the hose as the can looked clean before I filled it. After switching fuel supplies, it took about 30 seconds for the outboard to die and refuse to restart. 

So as we were drifting down the lake we thought it might be a good time to try the sail that I sewed over the winter.  Scott and Anita and Janet got the sail up and tweaked the attachment ties a little to try and get the wrinkles out, and we did a little bit of very low speed sailing/drifting as the wind had about quit by then.

I got out the tools and changed the spark plugs and fidldled with the fuel system trying to get the gunk out it.   We drifted/sailed back up channel for quite a while until we were really close the the little canyon that we spent the first night in.  Finally I got the outboard going and we put-putted our way back into the canyon.

It was about 2 pm or so by then and we found a quiet little spot in the very back part of the canyon and tied the boat up and stretched our legs a little.  In this farthest back part of the canyon there was no beach at all - just rock.  I put two bow lines out forward, and one stern line that tied us to the back part of the canyon.  It was tied to a rock that was about as big as I could carry, and then I put more rocks on top of it, so I thought we were tied down pretty well. 

We set up a little camp - there was plenty of wood, but no flies, and two little canyons that we could stretch our legs in and do a little exploring in.  We didn't go too far as the clouds and wind had come back to visit and threatening to rain again.  We hadn't really made camp, but we had taken the motor off of the boat so that we could get in and out a little easier.

Box Canyon Camp.
We ate a little early supper/late lunch and it started raining.  Everyone scrambled to put up the little boom tent, but once we got it up, the wind came whistling down the canyon and caught the little boom tent like a sail and blew the boat to the West and towards the lake.  The rock that was holding the stern into the shore was yanked off into the water like it wasn't there.  The two bow ropes continued to hold, but the boat ran back and forth with the wind.  The motor was still on shore, and I was worried that the bow anchors would give way and we would be blown onto rocks or some other not too great fate.  We had very little control with just oar power in a narrow little canyon.  Finally, when the wind turned a little favorable, I jumped off onto a little shelf of rock and grabbed to boat and held it to the shore while Anita ran ashore and gathered up stoves, dishes and everything else that we had unloaded except for the outboard.    I put that on the boat, helped Anita aboard and went along the cliffs to take in the bow anchors.  Scott got the outboard started and tried to keep the boat off the rocks.  I got one line free and walked it back to the boat.  Once I passed the line to the boat, there was only one holding it.  Anita and Janet tried to keep the boat from banging into the rocks but the wind was blowing pretty strong, and Scott was trying to keep the prop off of the rock shelves that lined the back of the cove.  I scurried around to pick up the other bow anchor, and the boat swung around and popped one of the canyon walls a pretty good bang.  It sounded worse than it was, as the boat is mostly a big drum, but it was loud, and there was a lot of excited discussion going on due to lack of steerage.

The remaining anchor was jammed in a large crack in between two big rocks, and was holding really well.  It wasn't hard to pull free, and once it was loose I pulled the boat towards me and gathered up the rope.  It came by really close and I was standing up a little on the rocks and jumped on it as it came by and out of the little canyon we went. 

We probably could have set course for Farley's canyon then, and we might have met up with everyone.  But it was about as far to Hite as it was to Farley's.  It was going to be dark by the time we got to either one.  We hadn't scouted Farley's, partly due to the bad gas breakdown, and didn't know what it would be like.  We had had a pretty good set of adventures and had decided that we didn't like sailing around unknown canyons in the dark.  And so we headed for the barn and home.

Headed Home
I feel bad in a way that we weren't more intrepid, and missed seeing everyone.  Our little adventure in the canyon was kind of sobering.  Either to be on shore with the motor and no boat, or to be on the boat with no motor and not much control in the wind and dark..... and I think we were just done. 

So that is the story.  I think next year, if it is going to blow and rain that we will bring a smaller boat and camp on shore and just day sail.  I built Picara for expedition camping and exploring and it really worked pretty well for that, but Lake Powell is an awfully big lake, and when the wind gets up and the whitecaps start to show, it might be better to be on shore with  a little boat that you can actually drag up onto the beach.  Maybe next year.  It wasn't the trip I thought it would be, but it is a trip that I will remember.


One more bit of drama:  Once we got back to Hite it was getting pretty dark.  We were all tired and once we got the boat back on the trailer, we busied ourselves getting it tied down and secured.  The motor was still on the boat, tilted up so that the prop wouldn't hit anything.  I was reaching under the boat to fasten an eyebolt onto the boat, and for some reason, as my head was down under the motor, a little bit of gasoline dribbled out onto my eye, and some ran into my ear.  Now you would expect that gasoline in the eye would not be good - but I had no idea that gasoline dribbled into an ear would generate and instant and excruciating earache.  I've never had an awl jammed into my ear, but I doubt it would hurt more.  A quick dip in the lake, and a good deal of head shaking worked wonders on both the eye and ear.  A word to the wise. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's Friday!! Well, Virtually Friday

The work week is almost done, and in about 15 minutes the weekend will start.  When the alarm rings at 5 am, I'm not always a fan of 10 hour days.  But when the weekend comes, I am always glad that I only have to work 4 days.

Other than that little plug for 4-10's.....We spent last weekend, and quite a bit of this week catching up from the Denver Trip.  The lawn was deep and tall, and it took quite a while to mow.  The weeds were thick in the garden, and Annie pulled most of them.  Her flowers are looking pretty good, and didn't dry up and blow away.  The tomatoes are coming on.  The peas grew knee high, and we were so busy that we hardly ate any.  Last night I made rhubarb/current jam, and I think it was Saturday or Sunday I made a little batch of strawberry/rhubarb jam.  The rhubarb really helps it to jell.

I'm sure that everyone that reads these posts already knows about our newest grandson, Rufio Rok.  He is a cute little guy, and we are looking forward to when his mom and dad are recovered enough to have some visitors.

That is about it.  Just working around the homestead and enjoying life with Annie. I'm in a lot better spirits this time of the day/week than I was this morning. 37 days until the Kokopelli cruise at Lake Powell, so I have some boat stuff to do as well.  Have a good night all.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Word From Mandy

Mandy and I have had some correspondence over the last few weeks about her interview with David and Nickki Webb.  She told me some stories about a 'friend' whom I can only assume was a close blood relative with a hommonymical name that sounded like a lot of tall tales to me...... but then she sent me this link.  There are some scary serious people out there, and I'm not sure how Gordon Thomas lived to tell the tale. Simon Ross certainly didn't have much luck.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

This is Canoeing!

I ran into this clip on one of my boat building sites and thought some of  you would like this (Crazy expedition bikers and hikers).  I'm sure some (most everyone else) will not.  I'm more of a flat water kind of guy, so I don't think I'll be doing this unless Annie just insists.  Lake Powell is pretty tame in comparison. 


Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Transcribed Interview with David and Nickki Webb, by Mandy Bjork

After watching 'The Bourne Ultimatum', I happened upon this interview of David and Nickki Webb by Mandy Bjork, sister to the famous spy and blogger.  I thought you might be interested in some more in depth human interest information.

Mandy: Thank you so much for meeting with me today, and for being willing to answer questions about your lives and the books and movies that were built on them.


Mandy: David, let's start with you.  Your hometown is portrayed in the story as being Nixa, Missouri.  Where were you born?

David:  It is true, I was born in Nixa, but I was an Army brat, and we traveled and lived in many places as I grew up.  My mother's parents still live in Nixa, and in my heart, I guess that is where I picture my self as being from.

Mandy: Nickki, how about you?  Tell us a little about your childhood, and where you grew up.

Nickki: I'm a mid-western girl.  I grew up in Kansas, in a little farming town not far from Newton, Kansas.  I grew up on a wheat farm.  Growing up, I had not one idea of the turns and twists my life would take.  I got a scholarship to Georgetown and studied political science.   I was recruited right out of school, and went to Langley for further training.

Mandy: How close to truth did the story line stay?  How did it all start?

David: The character of Jason Bourne/David Webb is amalgam of several peoples lives.  No one could live though the things that Jason & David lived through in Ludlum's and Lustbader's books and Greengrass' films.  If you are asking about the films that have been made to date, I would say that there is an element of truth and a good deal of high tech elaboration in that part of the story.   We are a little older than Matt Damon and Julia Stiles, so most of the story occurred in the early 1980's.  Real life wasn't as high tech as shown in the story, but the basic story is true.  I was an Army Ranger and the fight against terrorism was getting warmer. It seemed like Americans were easy targets for terrorist groups, organized crime - anyone who had a grudge.  I heard that a Certain Intelligence Agency was recruiting men to stop just such people.  I made it known that I was interested, was contacted and recruited.

Mandy:  Did you know each other then?

Nickki:  We had met and I suppose that we are dating in a covert kind of way.  We had a connection, even if we had to be quiet about it.  David was the first of the recruits, and his training/conditioning was brutal.  The program consisted of varying amounts of violent physical abuse, sleep deprivation, psychoactive drugs, hypnosis and other aspects that I won't even talk about.  I watched from the shadows.  Since David was the first, their training/conditioning techniques were not well developed.  They made a lot of mistakes on him that didn't have to be repeated on the others.  My heart bled for him, but I couldn't interfere in any way, even to wipe off the blood.  Working in Treadstone, I kept track, in a quiet way of what was happening to him and I was afraid that if they didn't kill him, that they would kill everything good in him that I loved.

David:  I wish I had known that someone was nearby and cared whether I lived or died.  Isolating and breaking down the individual was the core of the program, and if you know that even one person cares about you, it gives you strength to carry on.  They couldn't let that happen of course.

Mandy:  So, like the junk yard dog, you were beaten into submission and made meaner by the day?


David: Not exactly meaner.  When they got done with me, I was more of a tool than a person.  I wasn't especially mean, I was just kind of dead inside.


Mandy:  In the 'Bourne Identity', the first movie, you fail to kill your target, and are shot and almost die for your pains.  Did this really happen?


David: In the movie, I couldn't kill Wombosi, and as I tried to escape, he shot me.  Real life was not as dramatic, but it followed the same general script.  There was a man that I was supposed to kill that had his family nearby.   I am still not sure of all the details but I tried to escape and was nearly beaten to death for my pains.  I had no weapons, and some good Samartian took me to a hospital.  Between the training I had received and the beating I received from the goons, I had no idea of who I was or what to do next.  I did work on a fishing boat for some time and hoped that the cobwebs would clear.  Of course when a highly trained and extra-legal killing tool goes missing, there is a good deal of desperation.  I was targeted to be killed, and somehow, without really knowing why, I was able to evade most and defeat others who were sent to either capture or kill me.

Mandy:  You make that sound very matter-of-fact.  Can you give us a better idea of how you felt?

David: It is painful to go back to those memories, and I don't like to do it.  Watching the the movie (Bourne Identity) should give you a pretty good idea.  Not knowing who you are or why you annoyed some one enough to almost kill you is the stuff of nightmares.  It was like trying to move through a fog.  Part's of one memory would come into focus, but other supporting or contextual memories would fade away, just like when you drive or walk through a fog.  It was very frustrating.  I didn't know who almost killed me, who I was or whom I could trust.  Paranoia rises up and almost chokes you..... is this guy who is clapping me on the back a new friend, and old friend, or an old enemy?  I worried that I would be led to the slaughter - my slaughter - and I would have no idea it was even coming, or why.   When you worry, you don't sleep well, and that doesn't make your mind work any better either.

Gradually, some memories started to come back.  A word, or a picture would flash a picture in my mind, and I started to try and put the jig saw puzzle that was my past back together again.

Mandy: How long in real time did this story take to play out?  The movies are years apart, and it seems like a good deal of time elapsed from when you went missing until you jumped into the river?

David: I really have no idea.  Nickki?

Nickki:  It was about five years.  I won't put dates on it, but about six months of conditioning and then I lost track of you until you showed in Europe when I was posted in Berlin.  After you and Marie escaped you traveled the world and hid in India for almost 3 years.  After Marie was killed you were on every one's mind for another six months, until I heard that you were shot as you jumped into the East river, but they hadn't recovered your body.  I did have to smile because I knew in my heart you were still alive.

David: In a way, my life started when I jumped off that building.  Hitting the water was like hitting concrete and I felt so broken.  For as long as I could remember - from when I woke up after the coma that Wombosi's men had beaten me into, I was either trying to fit together the pieces of my memory, or was trying to track down the men responsible for making me into what I had become.  It was a life of murky recollection and vengeance.  Getting the memories back and confronting my old trainers was something that I had to do, but not something to build a life on.  I was done with killing, done with conflict.  Matt Damon can take some amazing beatings in the movie but in real life those injuries stay with you, and a lot of them hurt every day.

I went back to Nixa and visited with my grandparents.  I rented a little house down the street from them, and everyday I would go for a run and just drink in the peace. In the afternoons I would go over and visit a little with my Granddad.  We played checkers, and cribbage and didn't pay much attention to who won.  Grandma told me stories about my aunts and uncles.  Sometimes I stayed for supper and she would fry a chicken.  Granddad would pick some corn from his garden and we would have a summer time feast.  It took a while, but the memories of Nickki started to come back.  One day I realized that she had been helping in the background, as best she could all along, lost a good job, lost her future to help me and I had put her on a train and told her that " it gets easier" to run.  It was good to have the realization that she cared for me all those long years, but I felt as bad about my self as I ever had.  I started making calls and making plans to find her that very day.

So there is another chapter in the David Webb/Nickki Parsons story that still has to be told, but telling it might get some good people in trouble. You will just have to know that it took me almost another year to track her down, and extract her from an unpleasant situation.   Now we are just trying to live 'happily ever after'.

Mandy:  Thank you for talking to us tonight.  We all hope that you can live 'happily ever after'.  Good night

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The End-of-the-Month Sunday Update (February 2011)

It is a quiet night in Sweet Haven.  We had a short power outage - maybe 20 minutes earlier, but aside from that it has been a quiet Sunday.

Last week was Stake Conference, and our Bishop was called to be the new Stake President.  So the ward is going through a little transition.  We are going to miss our bishop - he is a good man and very kind.  I'm sure he will lead the Stake well, but it was always kind of fun to have him in a meeting.  He could bring both spirituality and wry humor to a meeting and it was a pretty good combination. 

Last Monday Andrew and Caren and the kids came down and spent the day with us.  We had a good visit, and I think the kids had a good time.  We had tater tots, chicken nuggets, and pizza and the kids seemed to be happy with that menu.   Annie and I have our normal everyday favorites but they would be boring for the kids I think.  We had to think a little bit about what kids like to eat.  It was not a real warm day, but they played on the swings for quite a while, and Seth got pretty good casting with an old fishing rod - no hooks.  It was a good day with not a lot of schedule.  We just visited and played.

Last night I finished my mainsail.  All the sewing is done, both machine and hand stitching.  The reef points are installed, the grommets are installed and it is ready to be bent (tied onto the gaff, boom and mast).  This whole project has been in the works off and on for about four years.  Two of those years were spent with me looking wide and wild eyed at all the sailcloth and then finding something else to do.  Anything else to do.  This stuff is hard to work with if you don't know how to handle it.  You can't stick a pin in it - it is too stiff.  The way the cloth is made is by rolling a very finely woven, resin covered dacron cloth between two heated rollers at about 50,000 psi.  This melts and smashed the resin into the cloth fibers and pretty much eliminates a bias sag. 

After a couple of years of piddling around the edges I found some video clips from Sailrite on YouTube and was able actually to see how they handled the cloth.  They don't pin it together at all, they tape it together.  Buying the double sticky tape, and a cheap sewing machine from WalMart kind of got the ball rolling.  Then I just had to learn how to sew.  Fortunately, I am married to an amazingly talented seamstress who is a pretty patient teacher as well.  But a lot of things that work on quilts and clothing don't work as well on sails, and I still had somethings to learn the hard way.  But such is life.  Anyway, the mainsail is done, and the mizzen sail is done but for the grommets.  So I should be ready for Lake Powell by September.

I guess that is about all.  It has been snowy and cold, and so my hopes for getting the early garden in early have been in vain.  The Spring Outage is around the corner, and that will keep me out of trouble until the first part of May.  Then two concerts, a concert trip to D.C., a Messabout at Starvation Reservoir, a 90th birthday party, the Crash Up Derby, Pioneer Day, One Camping Trip, Labor Day, the Gala, the Lake Powell Messabout, trip to Mike's (maybe), Thanksgiving, Christmas Concert, Christmas, New Years, .....and it all starts again.  I didn't even mention putting in a garden, finishing the fences, fixing the roof, putting up the new antenna, cleaning the shop,..... there truly is no rest for the wicked, and no time to repent.

I hope you all have a great night, sleep well and wake.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bono Voce in the Rabbit Den

Annie and I had a nice evening.  The Sweet Haven High School madrigal choir (Bono Voce)  has a fund raising event each February - a Valentine's Day concert with a catered dinner.  It is held in the Rabbit's Den - the high school cafeteria, and it is pretty sweet.

We don't hear too much music that is made by our friends, neighbors, and family.  We hear mostly  professional singers whose voices have been washed and scrubbed through a million dollars worth of electronic gear.  Blended, echoed, and polished it really does sound nice.  In a way, a lot of this music was like music our great-grandparents might have listened to - music that was made by 'just people' that they knew personally, and before recording sound was common.  From re-reading this last little bit I suppose you might think this is a criticism, but what I'm trying to say is that what you saw (or heard) is what you got. I liked it, and thought the kids pretty brave for singing in public.

While we got our salad and ate our meal,  the choir kids (individually or in small groups) went up on stage and sang a variety of songs that had a variety of polish.  But all of them exhibited more courage than I could ever pull together.  I think I would rather take a beating than get up in front of a bunch of strangers - even friendly ones - and perform.  So I appreciated their performances.

SH High School was built in the late 60's I think   The cafeteria is brick walled and the ceiling is acoustic tile.  Lighting is fluorescent.  The floor is linoleum.  There is a 7 foot tall mural of a rabbit that probably had a long history with anabolic steroids on the West wall.   There are vertical window  along the South wall, each in a little alcove and with a small table in it for a little privacy.   It's not fancy by today's standards and to make it fancy would cost quite a bit, but it seems to work fairly well, and it that room could talk, I'm sure there are thousands of tales it could tell of a couple of generations of teens from the SH area.  Even though I graduated from a high school hundreds of miles away,  I'm a little nostalgic about it as all of our kids graduated from it.  I don't think that our kids are very nostalgic, but in years to come they might be to some degree. Nostalgia, I think, is a measure of what you feel you have lost, and we often lose our innocence and sense of safety as life drags us along.  I suppose that part of the reason that I came away so content was that the whole night took me back to when our kids were not the polished and sophisticated adults that they have become, but to when they were somewhat unsure of themselves and their futures.  Their self confidence would come and go like a breeze in the summer, and seeing these kids tonight brought a lot of those memories back.

Since it was a fund raising dinner, the kids served the meals, brought the deserts and then entertained us.  They were alternately polite and poised when they were serving tables, and then when they were off with their friends you could see a variegation of teen behavior from timid to teasing, from confidence to boredom. Just kids being kids.

The teen years are fairly hard on parents too, but even though I don't think I got more than an hours worth of sleep each night for 15 years or so (only a slight exaggeration) I have fond memories of working on cars for the the girls, and they would come out and tell me about the boys that they liked.  It was a pretty good system as they usually had a LOT to say about the boy, and I would be under the car and wouldn't hear but about 10% of the story.  It was just sweet to have them come out and talk to me.  It was great to go out to DMAD with the boys (and J) and plink or fish, mostly just fool around often ending with a marshmellow or hot dog roast. 

That's about it.  We had a nice evening, and I don't know about Annie, but I had a nice walk down Memory Lane.  I hope you all have a great Friday.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Early February Update

It was a quiet week in Sweet Haven.....that is what I think I will be calling our little town in the future.  After reading the headlines and watching the new, it does seem like a quiet little haven.

It has been pretty quiet here, and pretty cold too.  The cold isn't so unique as I know that it is cold over most of the West and Mid-West.  Well, it is February so I guess it isn't too surprising.  Still, zero degree temperatures mixed with even a light but steady wind makes for a pretty cold winter camp.  I was kind of getting in the mood for an early spring, and getting in an early garden, but I don't know if that will happen or not.

Annie and I have been staying indoors quite a bit.  She has been sewing on quilts and I've been sewing on my mainsail.  It makes for a cozy and companionable day - fire in the fireplace, book-on-tape playing and a little conversation when we have something to say.  It goes well with chicken-noodle soup and whole wheat bread.

The sail is almost done.  I'm just putting in the reef points now.  It's very tempting to not put them in as they are little reinforced squares of fabric sewn in lines in the middle of the sail.  I'll put grommets through their center, and when the wind gets too frisky, the reef points become the new bottom of the sail and are tied to the boom, effectively making the sail much smaller.  It is tempting to leave them off because I'm tired of wrestling with the sail and want to have it done, but I've never seriously considered leaving them off.  In fact, I'm sewing in two rows of them.  I actually should start the mizzen sail.  It will be much smaller, and won't have the pesky reef points.... we will see.  

At work the Spring Outage is getting closer in a hurry.  Usually we have four week outages, but this one will be six weeks long, and run from March 12 to April 21.  It might be kind of a strange long outage as this will be the second outage in this fiscal year - everyone is worried they might go over the budget, and weirdly, that is more important than fixing things.  So be it.

I'm in Week 10 of P90X - the exercise program that a few of us are doing at work.  I'm getting stronger, but not lighter, at least so far.  Tony Horton, the creator of the program uses 'muscle confusion' workouts - a different set of muscles each day.  Which pretty much guarantees that a different part of you will hurt tomorrow.  There is a lot of core body work, and flexibility work built into the routines as well.  So, we will see.  I'm very tired each night, and not too feisty.  A friend at work has been using this program for the last three years and has not had an exercise related injury in that time.  This is a pretty important feature as injuries effectively kill exercise program momentum.

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It's Monday night, and it sounds like a big storm is blowing in.  If the storm is as big as the wind, well, we will need snowshoes.  I'm guessing we might get an inch or two of snow.  We had a nice Saturday, making a quick trip to SLC to celebrate Thomas' 1st birthday.  We had a yummy dinner that Jeff and Megan prepared and then played some fun games.  Janet got home from a month in Denver about the time it was time for us to go, so we got hugs all around and made a quick stop at Becky's for a little sewing discussion, and then headed down for a quick stop at Andrew and Caren's.

It was good to see everyone, even though some of the visits were brief.  Sunday wasn't a day of rest, but it was OK.  Today was a quick run to the dump, running a few errands, some sewing for both of us, and a short nap for me in the afternoon.  Subway for supper, and chicken soup cooking for tomorrows lunch.  A quiet day, and we got to spend it together.  That's the best part.  Hope you all have a good week.  Sleep well, and wake.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

January Update

Wow, time rushes on, and in my lazy winter sloth I find it very easy to just ride the current and wait for Spring... and not blog as this takes a certain amount of concentration and discipline that seems to be in short supply.  Caren inspired me recently with her update, and I thought I had better get with it .

Going back to Thanksgiving....it's all kind of a blur.  We had a very nice TG with Becky & Travis, and Ashley & Dan.  We were both a little hammered from our six week power plant outage.  Usually we have them in the Spring and are all worn out then.  But it all worked out well -  There was turkey and trimmings and pies (mmm..... pies) of both the pumpkin and pecan variety.  Both were excellent.  Annie got pretty fancy with the crust on the pecan.

In the blink of an eye, Christmas was upon us.  We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with  Chandler & Julie, and then stopped at Andrew & Caren's on our way home.  Annie had some presents to deliver (the Real Santa) and we had a nice visit there. 

Now it is the middle of January already.  Tithing settlement is over except for mailing out about 70% of the statements.  Annie is working feverishly on two quilts that must be finished early in March.  When they say that artists are driven.... it is true.  I wish that I had half of her grit and determination and inspiration.  Well, I get into my own brand of trouble.

A few days ago we were at the store and they were selling turkey's for 79 cents/lb.  We got the biggest one that was in the cooler - about 28 lbs and it took a full 24 hours to thaw.  I put it in the oven at midnight and it was done in the morning.  Then the work began.  We also had a bag of chicken thighs/drumsticks that I cooked and canned.  In the end we got ten quarts of meat/broth and four quarts of chicken/turkey noodle soup.  Like so many things that we make or grow at home, the first analysis is:  How much did it cost, and how much was the time spent worth.... and how much would it cost at the store.  The true answer is that you can't buy canned meat that is half as good as you can make.  Is store bread ever as good as the home-made bread straight out of the oven?  Are the store tomatoes ever as good as the sun warmed and ripe fruit out of your own garden?  Rhetorical questions all.

Every year, if we haven't been sick more than 80 hours, we get a wellness rebate.  I has some left over and the other night, walking through Walmart, my interest was captured by a pellet gun over in the sports section.  I had seen this gun for a few months and it looked like a good deal, and since I had some of that money from the wellness rebate left, I just bought it.  It is a one-cock mechanism where the barrel is the cocking lever.  Anyway, it zips a .177 pellet at about 1200 fps - very close to .22 rimfire speed.  It comes with an extra barrel that will let you shoot .22 pellets at 800 fps as well.  This is seriously not  a kids gun.   So it is fun to be an adult, and mostly grown up.  It will go through a 1" phone book and then put a serious dent in a pine backing board.  So that is my new toy.

There is about 60 days until the next Outage starts.  Hard for me to imagine.  I'll be so glad when this one is over.  Yikes!  I see why several guys retired before the last one started, and several are set to retire before the next one starts.

Well that is about it.  Tonight it is melting like crazy outside....so it won't be too long before we will have to get the early garden in.  For sure before the outage.  No rest for the wicked, no time to repent.  Sleep well all, and wake.