Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mid-December, 2013

Today is the Ides of December.  We've had our Ward Christmas Party (last Tuesday).  We've finished with Finals at Work and things are slowing down, student-wise, but starting to speed up for me to get ready for the new semester.  We've had our Student worker open house at work.  At home, we've started receiving Christmas Cards in the mail--YAY!  I LOVE receiving Christmas cards!  AND, we've had snow--boy, have we ever had snow!  It's not so much the snow, as the bitter, bitter cold.  The snow is so fluffy and powdery, too.  Isn't it lovely?
I took this on campus one day with my phone.

It's taken me a bit to get into the swing of things this December.  Like the rest of the nation (a big chunk of it, at least) we have been having bitter cold temperatures! I have gotten a bit out of my regular routine because of it.  I don't get up early and go walking.  Last week, I repented and got out a "little" earlier and went to a couple of yoga classes.  And weights once.  It took a few days to recover from weights. Ugh. So out of shape, and just in time to feast on candy and goodies galore over the holidays!

Once I got a little caught up on house work, I managed to get the tree up and decorated (with a little help from Eric).  The tree had been sitting in a box on the living room floor for a while. We opted for a bit of an old-fashioned look this year, but without the homemade strands of popcorn. That is just TOO time consuming and I've not got much of that.

Last week, Eric played viola in Handel's "Messiah" performance--the Orchestra of Southern Utah's gift to our community.  I wanted to go and support Eric in his musical endeavors, but it was so cold and I was so tired. I went alone to his SUU Winter choral concert earlier in the month.  And Mike needed a hair cut SO badly by that weekend.  And, and, and... the excuses kept piling up.  I didn't attend the Sunday night performance because I went to the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional at our stake center and following that was a Stake Musical Fireside.  A lady in our ward is in charge of that annual event, so I wanted to listen to that presentation.  It's always good. Berenice dropped me off at the stake center on her way home from having dinner at our house.  Mike was hibernating after dinner on Sunday. ha.  It IS winter, after all, and he does spend a good chunk of the day in the cold during the week.  He watched the devotional from the comfort of his "man cave."   Soooo, on Monday night, after a Family Home Evening mini-lesson, and after I gave Mike a much-needed haircut, I took my ticket and the extra one that Mike didn't use (still hibernating) and drove in the freezing cold temps to the Heritage Center and just walked in way late to the concert.  I got there just as the opening strains of the "Hallelujah Chorus" were being played.  So, as I walked up the stairs to the balcony, people were standing up and no-one noticed that I was walking in late, there were plenty of places available to sit (it had threatened to be a full house and I was just a tad concerned about not having a seat). It was perfect.  I was sitting where I could see Eric in his flowing conductor-looking hair, playing his viola and looking so professional in his black tuxedo.  I could see and hear everything really well, AND it was extra short since I came in late.  Perfect for what I needed that night.  All the parts of "The Messiah" that I love the best.

And NOW Christmas can begin.

I scaled back a LOT on Christmas decorations this year.  I only put up one tree at my house and Mike convinced his mom that we [read "I"] really didn't need us to put one up this year for her (THANK YOU, Mikey!) I was feeling just a bit overwhelmed this year.  I put out a few [fake]poinsettia plants around my living room.

The piano only has a basket of flowers and a bunch of nativity scenes instead of the Christmas Tree collection. Yes, I love them, but ....not necessary this year.

A few little festive snow men on the book case, a couple of Santa-type figures on the mantel and a wreath on the door.
I put out a wreath at Berenice's and a few other easy decos, Eric hung her outside icicle lights on Saturday and we're calling it good. We're not Scrooges!  Really, we're not!  We'd just rather spend our time doing other things.  For me, on Saturday the 14th it was preparing my "neighbor gifts" and I worked hard most of the afternoon and evening making gifts-in-a-jar.  They are ready to be delivered.

Mike and I strung one window with lights on the front of our house.  And the front of our house looks different, by the way. The garage door is hung.  Some what.  It looks good from the outside; however, it is not hooked up to anything on the inside to make it go up and down.  Yet.  But parts have been ordered and he's getting little bits done when he can. Progress.  Slow progress, but it's progress.  It does not help that he ran over one of the parts while it was laying in the driveway awaiting to be installed.  Needless to say, it is not easy for me to get my bike in and out of the garage.  

I've spent hours making some hand-stitched samplers for some special people in my life.  One, I delivered on Saturday afternoon to my co-worker who has been such a help to me.  Well, they all are.  But this gal just moved into their home so I presented it to her as a house-warming gift.  It's just a sampler that says, " Give Thanks" and, being Jewish, I don't know that she's really into the Christmas-y things that usually go around.  It seemed appropriate.

So, Christmas is coming.  I'm excited.  We're driving to Southern California for the Sorensen Family get-together that's being hosted by Suz's family. It'll be nice to see the cousins, yet sad to not have our kids and grandkids there this year.  I think the lack of grandchildren in the immediate area is what has hindered me in doing more decorations and such at our house.  We are looking forward to a few days with Nick and Kaylee down here as they share Christmas Eve and Morning with us, then Eric will take us to Las Vegas so me, Mike and Berenice can go spend some time with Katie and Casey and boys.   It's a lovely time of year, filled with family and giving. Now, I just need to get busy and get cards out and I'll be good. :-)  I'm getting closer!

Thanksgiving in Rock Springs, WY

I have not seen Gail's family since they left Cedar and moved to Rock Springs in August. I've seen Gail, but not the grand kids. Seth and Jonathan were her in Cedar City in November, but I wasn't here.   So it was good that we went to Rock Springs.

Jonathan cuddled up with Eric for a nap on the couch during a movie.  We showed Mike's Mom "Princess Diaries," and "Life of Pi"
 Eric came with us, and so did Mike's Mom.  It's not a terribly long drive up there, and the weather was nice.  Mike and I listened to a very long book on tape.  Very dark story.  We kept hoping it would be happier, but I guess the guy survived to write the tale, so that part was happy.  Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt.  A lot of swearing in parts, but it was old-fashioned Catholic swearing by the names of saints.  Still, a little discomfiting with your Mother-in-law sitting in the back seat. ha.  [Eric always sleeps in the car on trips.]
We left Cedar around 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning.  It was a rather un-eventful drive, and we do love those!  Right out of Cedar, I discovered that I'd left my phone at home, charging.  I decided it wasn't worth going back 10 or so miles to get it, so I was totally un-attached the whole trip. No computer, no phone. I loved it.  Other than a bathroom stop or two on the drive, we stopped in Little America, WY for 99 cent Ice Cream Cones.  Really!  And they were big ones.  So surprising, and a nice little break. We got to Gail's in the late afternoon and found Gail and the kids out playing tag on the drive way, the weather was that mild! Caroline and I went for a walk around her neighborhood.  That felt really nice after sitting all day.  Maybe we did that on Thursday morning...I really can't recall, Gail fed us dinner Wednesday night and we just relaxed.  Well, we did. She was busy doing food preparations for Thursday--Thanksgiving! And we did not see much of Seth, either, as he was very busy down at the store.  Long, long hours for sales and preparing for sales.
Busy cooks in the kitchen.
 We had a nice relaxing time there with Gail.  We watched movies and played games.  We tried for some gift cards at Sports Authority by standing in line Thursday night, but just missed the cut off (first 80 people got gift cards) by about 10 people or so--darn!  But the crowds were awful, checkout lines worse, so we left.  There wasn't anything we really needed THAT badly! ha.

Friday, Mike and his Mom, Caroline and I went to their Mall. It is really close to their house, and quite nice.  Much better than anything we have in Cedar City.   It (and Smith's Grocery store, too!) is so close that Caroline and I stayed at the mall and walked home after the trip into Penny's with everyone. Walking around their one small Penny's store just about wore Mike's mom out!  She was having kind of a hard time walking, and I could tell she was very fatigued by the time they left and Mike took her back to Gail's.   Caroline and I took our time wandering in and out of stores and even found a couple of things to buy.  I've always wanted to try fleece leggings.  And now I have a pair.  They have come in handy for freezing cold morning walks.  But only Freezing.  I haven't been walking in the SUB - FREEZING weather we've been having this December like much of the nation!
On our way out of Rock Springs, we stopped by the old downtown area. Mike's parent's owned a store somewhere here about 50 years ago.  Maybe only 40.  Long enough ago that Berenice wasn't even sure which building it was.

Late on Friday night, Eric and I braved the cold and went to the theater to see "Catching Fire."  Excellent movie.  We enjoyed it a lot. I read the "Hunger Games" series and saw the first movie.  Eric claims #2 was so much better than the first, but I don't remember enough about the first to be able to see a big difference. I enjoyed them both.  Mike and I hope to get out to the theater this holiday to see "Ender's Game," too.  That was one of the audio books we listened to on a trip to Reno once and enjoyed it quite a bit.  Harrison Ford is in the movie and I like Harrison Ford movies, generally speaking. 

We decided to not stay too terribly long in Rock Springs.   The weather was cold, but clear and not really windy or bad.  So, on Saturday we headed down to Vernal.  This is what kind of weather met us just after Flaming Gorge!  Thick as Pea Soup Fog.  All the way down the switch-backs and into the Uintah Basin. 
 The Basin gets some really nasty inversions, and this one is no exception.  We went this way home in order to see many of the relatives who were visiting for Thanksgiving at Jannea's house.  And we did see a lot!

Isn't this frozen fog on the trees and shrubs just gorgeous?
Berenice with her newest great-great grand baby, Scarlett Eaton.   Ryan is the dad on the right.  They live in St. George and the baby's only a few weeks old, if that.  Ryan is one of Jannea's grandkids.  Many of hers were at her house or are in town, so we saw quite  a few.
We had lunch with a bunch of Jannea's family as they came and went.  Then we stopped to visit a bit with Sally and Devere.  They were both not feeling too well, but it was good to see them.  The last time Mike took his Mom to Vernal for something, they saw a lot of the rest of the Vernal bunch, so this was a good representation and we headed on home to Cedar.  Again, un-eventful--an oh-so-nice kind of road trip to have.   Christmas presents delivered to Rock Springs and Family Visited--a successful trip. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

"New" Guest Room

This may not be the best thing for visiting grandkids, but for now, I'm quite enjoying this.  And I'll put things away when necessary.

So, Mom, this is for you!  This is how my "Sorensen Guest Room" is shaping up.  It's still a work in progress.

I put the crocheted round tablecloth on the round table in the corner.  By Grandma's chairs.

I don't have any of the Grandma's sheet music framed and over the bed yet, but I will.  Right now it's prints of the four seasons.

Poodle!  There's a candy dish that Bob gave me on the end table.  The dresser runner matches the round table cloth.

The glasses and pitcher and platter were given to me by Bob. They were his grandma's. The shelf above (out of site) has the picture you just gave me, Mom.

As was the (Great-Grandma Sorensen) rolling pin on the top of the shelf.

Do you know who made the blue doily?

I have an antique darning egg on this table. There's also a shaving brush on the book shelf next to the Grandpa Sorensen school photo.
It's a start!  You need to come and visit. :-)

November, Mid-Month

I had a meeting I wanted to attend in Salt Lake City. I know. I'm weird like that.  I like to attend work-related meetings.  It's far better than "attending" by phone when it is such a big group.  The Friday of the meeting corresponded with the weekend of Mike's cousin's wedding, so we made the trip and got in some family visits, too!

My library meeting was 10 a.m. in West Jordan, so we left Cedar early on Friday morning and Mike and his mom dropped me off for that 2 hour meeting.  Mike dropped his mom off at Gayela's house and then when Mike picked me up at the end of my meeting, we headed over Gayela's to visit, nap, etc. Gayela had invited Nick and Kaylee to join us for dinner on Friday night.  It was a dreary, rainy day, but nice nice to spend time visiting with family.  We had dinner at Gayela's house that evening and Mike and I stayed the night with Nick and Kaylee.

Early Saturday morning, Mike took his Mom to go visit is brother in Draper, and I got to sleep in.  It was nice.  Kaylee and I went to Gardner Village later and wandered around the shops in the rain.  It was all decked out in Christmas lights and displays.  I'd never been there before, so that was fun.  Mike and I had a nice lunch with Nick and Kaylee (tacos!) and then we headed over to Gayela's house (just me and Mike ) to pick up Gayela and Mom to drive up to Ogden for Ilene's wedding.  Ilene is Mike's first cousin.  She has such a nice, big fun family and we've seen more of them in the past several years.  Her husband recently died (4 years ago?) and she found a new love and we were invited to share their special day with them. So we did!

Ilene belongs to Berenice's brother Reece (deceased) and Donna (pictured above with Berenice). Ilene and her first husband had about 6 children and some grandkids, too, although they may not have been born at the time Kent passed away.  Anyway, Ilene's new husband Dennis is a fine gentleman and they seem incredibly happy. He, also, has grown children and cute grandchildren who participated in the ceremony.  It was short and sweet.

We enjoyed a nice Chinese Buffet dinner in a nearby restaurant just after the ceremony, then, back at the reception was cheesecake!  And dancing!  Mike and I actually danced one dance.  We tried a second, faster one but his knees said, "Nope. Don't do that." So we left. ha.
Gayela, Berenice, Donna, Halena

Mike and his sister, Gayela.

Mike and his cousin Donavan Chadburn

Berenice dancing with a mysterious man.  I think he's just a friend from the bride's ward.
Mike and I spent the night again with Nick and Kaylee.  Their Sunday church meetings didn't start until  11 a.m. but they were nice and fixed us some lovely pumpkin waffles for breakfast before we headed over to pick up Mike's Mom for church.  We'd initially planned to travel back to Ogden for Ilene's son's mission farewell sacrament meeting, but decided we'd visited with quite a lot of people all afternoon and into the evening, so we went to Sacrament meeting with Gayela in her 9:00 ward and then headed home to Cedar City.  It was a fun weekend! 

We made it home almost in time to attend the last 10 minutes of our church meetings (but we just drove on past on our way to our house), and Berenice did make it in time for her Relief Society meeting so she went to that.  I wish we could have gone to OUR ward's Sacrament meeting, as there were all sorts of changes in our ward that week.  We have a new primary presidency and lots of new teachers.

Also, that evening former Utah Governor Michael Leavitt was the speaker at a special inter-faith devotional/symposium about Religious Freedom.  It was held in the Centrum on SUU's campus and Mike and I attended that in the evening.   I'm really glad we went.  It was amazing and enlightening.  "People of Faith"  everywhere in America need to keep their eyes open and their mouths as well else our right to practice our religion shall be quietly swept away if we remain silent!  Beware.  Text  "ICARE" to 535-898 for some links to some super videos made by people of faith about how important this is.  I care. Do you?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Song in the South

Nah, I don't really have a song.  But I DID have fun!

I went to Atlanta, Georgia for the Veteran's Day weekend to spend time with Donna and Mom and Laura. It was a nice get-away for Mom, and kind of a test to see how things would go with leaving Dad on his own with some helpers nearby to assist with meals and such.  I think it went well.

I got there late, late, late on Friday.  Or Early on Saturday, depending on how you look at it.  Laura got there a day before.  It was long enough for her to walk around downtown and get some massive blisters on her feet!!  Yikes!  Not a very good way to start the vacation, Laura!  But, she was extremely good-natured about it, all things considered.

Saturday, November 9.  After breakfast at the hotel, we traveled into Atlanta and checked out "The Wren's Nest."  It was an old house in a very sketchy part of Atlanta.  We took the tour.  It wasn't until we were well into the tour that I finally realized just whose home it was--the author of the Bre'r Rabbit Tales.  Uncle Remus.  Only he has another name.  It's Joel Chandler Harris.  The cute little ol' lady tour guide mentioned his name many times, but the name meant nothing to me.  Google the Wren's nest and you can find out all about it, I'm sure. It was a beautiful home and yard.

I loved the soaring oak trees and the crunchy little acorns we trampled through.  The back yard was spacious and had a little amphitheater area surrounded by magnolia trees.  Lovely spot.  Seedy area of town, but a lovely lot and home.

[Humph.  I wish my computer would upload photos much faster to Blogger.  It started at 7:49. It’s done with 4 of 11 pix in 5 minutes.  That’s a bit long...don’t you think?  Any suggestions would be welcome.]

So, after the Wren’s nest, we drove to Stone Mountain, Georgia.   According to the brochure they gave us, it’s Georgia’s number one attraction.  So how come I’d never heard of it?  It is quite lovely.   I am just really taken with all the lovely leaves on the trees.  Fall was in full splendor in Atlanta and I LOVED it!  So, SO pretty—everywhere!  Even in the parking lot of our hotel!  (See Donna’s blog for other hotel adventures. ha.)
Here we are--Ready for our adventures from the hotel parking lot--Hey!!  Wait for ME!!! :-)
One of Donna’s co-workers and daughter  met us there.  We walked around a bit, found the village wasn’t opened until 2 pm, and we were considerably early.  The three of us (me and Donna’s friends Karen and her  daughter,  Leah) left Mom and Donna and Laura-with-the-blistered-feet to purchase tram tickets to the top of Stone Mountain and we hiked to the summit.  It’s a bit of a hike, but only one mile.  Up. 

[Photo upload update:  9 minutes into the process and we’re on picture number 10 of 11!  ]

We took photos, enjoyed the view.  It really is a big tourist attraction and there were many people there. I liked it. It was nice.  After we met up again at the bottom (yes, we hiked up AND down the hill even though I had a chance to ride the tram back down), we ate a late lunch in the village.  We wandered around the little shops and window shopped.  They had a glass-blower.  You know, I don’t want to sound like a snob, but after seeing Murano glass-blowers in action, I really felt like the fellow we saw was not quite a master craftsman.  Not yet, anyway.  I could even tell by looking  at the wares in the store. They were pretty, no doubt.  And there’s no way * I * could do anything close to that—ever!  So he’s got talent for sure.  But Murano.  Now THAT’s craftsmanship at a master’s level!

Karen on left (pink on shoes), her daughter Leah in center, Donna on right.  Awkward shot, but aren't the trees pretty?  They were making snow off to my right, but I forgot to get a photo of that.  Prepping for the December displays and activities.

Part of the trail followed the power line.  THIS power pole was  COVERED with gum.  Yuck!  The power pole on the trail further up, past the difficult part and past the little resting area--not nearly so much gum!!  Either they had no more gum to give or not as many people really make it to the top!

Far less gum on this pole, yes?

Many inscriptions mark the solid granite trail.  Some are old.

Me with the skyline of Atlanta in the F  A  R away background. I think you can see it if you click on the picture and make it bigger.

One of the two markers I found.  Unfortunately, I had no crayon or pencil with which to make a rubbing.  So I photographed it.

Me on the trail.  Poor Leah slipped.  Some of the bare granite is not so bare on the trail and those pine needles or the loose sand can be slippery!!!

Just some pretty exposed and worn gnarled pine tree roots.

The Stone Mountain carving.  Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and General Lee.

These last two shots I took from the train as we were waiting to leave the "station." There is a miniature golf place here at Stone Mountain as part of their Theme Park Attraction.  But those leaves!!! I just loved the trees!!!

We had tickets for the open-air train ride around the base of Stone Mountain.

I have some photos of the train ride, too.  If I have the patience to wait for them to load, I’ll add them to the blog.  [There’s GOT to be an easier way to do this!!]

OK.  So, the train ride was open air.  There were video screens on the train—lots of them, actually. Kind of like on airplanes.  One little child boarding the train exclaimed upon boarding, “Oh!  Yay!  TV!”  Yes, well, not exactly.  The presentation shared facts about the history, flora and fauna of the area.  It was cool and crisp and a nice little jaunt around the base.  We were so busy looking at the granite monadnock that we forgot to look at the lake that we must have passed somewhere along the line.  Oh well.  The area of full of hiking trails and camping grounds.   It was really cool to see.  And such a view from the top!!  So nice.  The weather was overcast so no-one got overly hot or sunburned.  Bonus all around.  Our daytime temps were in the 60’s, I think.

I don’t think we really did much that evening.   We had a nice late lunch, so didn’t really feel it was necessary to go out to eat dinner, so we just snacked on what we had in the room, visited and fell into bed kind of early.  I did watch a movie on Donna’s iPad before I went to sleep.

Sunday Morning we needed to be downtown for the events of the day. I had planned, if possible, to attend church in the area of our hotel.  It was close, but the timing was not right to get us to the places we needed to go AND to avoid the masses of people who would be converging on the MARTA rail transit after the football game.  Football?  I think that’s who the Atlanta Ravens are.  I dunno. It’s sports, and I seldom pay attention to sports.

So we rode MARTA!  Laura had ridden it from the airport when she came in on Thursday or Friday, but none of the rest of us had.  It was an adventure to try and figure out the kiosks to buy our cards and rides, but we did it and felt so smart!  There was NO ONE around—the place was deserted and the trains very empty.  But it was a Sunday morning.  We enjoyed the adventure and went downtown to figure out our excursions.   None of us, not a one, has any sense of direction.  Not in a big city with sky scrapers all around.  We tipped a kind homeless-looking person who gave us correct instructions.  Mom had a ready tip for our hotel shuttle driver who didn’t accept it, so Mom gave it to him.  I’m sure it made his day. ha.

MY adventure was the Georgia Aquarium. I'd never been, but Mom and Donna had, so they opted to see the World of Coca Cola.  I'd already seen that and opted to NOT.   So it worked out well. I spent about 5 hours in the aquarium and they went on a long tour of the Coke place plus CNN then we met up with Donna's friends for dinner that night at the Cheesecake factory. 

Georgia Aquarium has whale sharks!!  And albino crocodiles!  And lovely displays.  Here are a couple.

Oh, but I get ahead of myself.  We had to get OUT of downtown first.  On the train, you know.  So we found the station after way too many stairs up and down and up and down for poor Mom and Laura-with-the-blisters-on-her-feet.  Ouch!  We found the station.  It's surprisingly lacking in signage, unlike the Metro in DC which has very adequate signage.  And the one in Boston.  Heck, probably even in Rome and Munich--I've ridden them all!  So we took the wrong train.  All the way out to the end of the line.  Enjoyed the ride immensely, even when we realized we were in the wrong place-ha!  So we got back on and rode it back in, switched to the RIGHT train and got back to the station where we could be picked up by the hotel shuttle and be taken back to our car so we could freshen up before going out to eat. Whew!
Some photos of one of the longest Escalators I've ever been on. About three or four stories, at least.  Coming up from the MARTA stop.
Looking UP

Looking DOWN. I took stairs a lot in our hotel.  Fifth floor room.  I did NOT take these stairs!!

And we ate.  And Ate and ATE. Yummy cheesecake.  Mmmmm.  We fell into bed that night, stuffed to the gills.  

Monday morning, we took Laura to the airport after breakfast, then Mom and Donna and I headed over to the downtown area.  We thought about seeing the Federal Reserve to pick up a free baggie of shredded money, but it it was a federal holiday.  We looked at the Margaret Mitchell House gift shop.  Then we three went on a fabulous tour of the Fox Theater.  I didn't have my camera, but it is pretty cool.  Cool enough that I bought not just a post card, but the whole souvenir book!  I am looking forward to reading it.  Then it was time to take ME to the airport.  

Such a fun weekend!  Thanks to Donna and Mom and Laura for making it such a great time!!!