Saturday, December 24, 2016

Some things just make you feel good. This letter is tops on my list

As a mailman, I sometimes think that when someone acknowledges you with a tip or a plate of cookies, they are saying, "we really appreciate your service". I picked up a few goodies this year. Five of my 700+ customers thought about it enough to do something about it. I don't feel bad. I nearly didn't get anything out for my own mail carrier. I just got that done this morning. And really there is no requirement for anyone to do so. And, I just started this route in June, so some people don't even know me yet. It is pretty rare that I see most people outside. That being said, I received a letter yesterday from a young girl at a home from which I pick up packages from nearly every day. The letter made my day. Here is what it said:

Dear Post Officer (that's what my little sister calls you)

I just wanted to Thank you for all the work that you do. Especially at this Christmas time. It must be so much work around this time because of everyone sending Christmas packages, or getting presents to wrap for people, or stuff like that. And it also must be really hard at this time because of the cold. And so I just wanted to thank you for all the work you do. I don't know where we would be without your work. My parents send out a lot of packages for work and without you doing your job so well, my family would have a hard time making a living, and so Thank you! You're always so kind when you come to our house too. Even with our crazy dog. It must be hard being so nice. Especially when not everyone is nice back. So I just wanted to say thanks. Thank you for being happy and kind. I am thankful for you and so are many others, even if they don't say it. Always remember that. God loves you and is aware of you. You are doing better than you might think you are. Thank you for being our Post Officer. 

From one of your faithful customers (if you'd call it that).

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas goodies made and ready to deliver

Yesterday, I made pumpkin bread, sugar cookie dough, and fudge. Today, with Ann's help I made snickerdoodles (which she shaped and rolled in the cinnamon/sugar) and finished up baking the sugar cookies, which she cut out and frosted (I frosted one and ate one). Then we got them on the plates. We are doing all the homes on our street this year, which we think is 12, plus a couple of other neighbors who have been kind enough to drop stuff off at our door.
I think the plates look kind of festive, don't you?
After the plates were all loaded, we covered them in foil and put our name tags on them so that if we end up dropping them off on the door step because no one is home, they will know who they got them from. Many of them won't even know who we are, so part of the plan was to introduce ourselves (we have been here three years and don't know everyone on our street of 12 homes). For that reason and more, it would be better if we could catch them home.
The only bad thing about making the treats is that I guess I aggravated my dormant plantar fasciitis, and my right foot really hurts. Ah, but it will go away, I think, with ice and rest.
Okay, now I've got to get to the store and back and after that, we'll take them around later so we can catch the most people home. It will be fun!

Friday, December 09, 2016

Merry Christmas, Darling--Karen Carpenter could really sing

Leave it up to me to have a favorite Christmas song that is also a love song, but that's just what Merry Christmas, Darling by the Carpenters is. Not only is it a great song though, it is also hugely representative of the reason losing Karen Carpenter was so sad. What a voice! I've never actually seen this video, but it too is a treasure. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

The tree is decorated

Thursday, Ann and I went to three places before finally settling on the right tree for the right price. It looked great at the tree lot and only cost $40. People say that you could get a nice artificial tree for a bit more than that and that it would last for years and not cause damage to the environment by cutting down trees. My argument has always been, well, when you get rid of that fake tree eventually, how long is it going to take to decompose in the landfill. One thousand years? Ten Thousand? Besides, most real Christmas trees these days are grown on farms for the exact purpose of becoming Christmas trees.
We got the tree home and of course, it doesn't fit in the stand as is, so I had to remove some of the lower branches, in addition to about an inch of the trunk so it would absorb water. The tree seals itself off after cutting so you need to make the cut and then get it into water within a few minutes or it will not take up any water and thus become even more of a fire hazard than it already is as a real tree.
Once the lower branches were removed, one side of the tree didn't look perfect any more. But see, that doesn't really matter. Even Charlie Brown's tree looked beautiful once it was decorated, and we knew we could fill in the gaps and open spaces with dangling ornaments and lights.
I put the lights on Thursday night, and Ann got a lot of it decorated while I was at work on Friday. When I came home, she was beat and I finished decorating it. And really, it looks pretty nice. Now we can relax and enjoy the glow.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Love you inside out--the Bee Gees rocked it back then

Some of my formative years occurred during the 1970s, which at the beginning was a decade of hippies and the peace/love thing, but by mid-decade had begun morphing into disco. By the late seventies, disco ruled. King of the disco bands in those days were the Bee Gees, who had quite a few big hits. One of my favorites was this one, Love You Inside Out which topped the charts at number one for one week in June of 1979. Here is this classic from the disco era.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour" a classic!

This may be Stevie Wonder's greatest hit, and he had a lot of them. Anyway, it's a great love song, and really high amongst my favorites. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Trip Report: Hiking the Red Pine trail

I enjoyed a nice hike on Friday up to Red Pine Lake. I started just after 8:30. The weather was gorgeous and after about half a mile I was warm enough to take off my jacket. I had been up this trail up to the lake, then over the ridge to White Pine Lake and down many years ago. I had gone up this trail recently a couple of times either with limited time, and thus not making it to the lake, or with my young grandkids in tow, some of whom weren't quite up to the hike. So, I was determined to make it this year, weather permitting.
There is always a nice touch of light in the morning.
I always like the fact that I'm hiking in "the wilderness".
About a mile or so up the trail, I rounded a corner and saw a huge buck moving up the trail ahead of me in the same direction I was going. He went behind some brush that lined the trail and I tried sneaking up on him to get a pic. As I neared the place he had vanished I continued moving slowly for about ten minutes, finally figuring I had lost him. Just seconds after I began hiking normally again, I rounded a curve to see him still ahead of me on the trail. This time, after he went around a turn, I sped up, thinking that I might still get that pick. Unfortunately, I must have spooked him because I never spotted him again.
The sun just peaking through the trees is always a nice image for me.

Here is the sign you would see if you were coming from Maybird
The trail splits here. To get to Red Pine, you continue up the left
side of the stream. If you cross the bridge, you'll end up in
Maybird Gulch. 

An old mine dump partially covered with snow.
I continued on up the trail and the higher I got, the icier the trail got. I started looking for a hiking stick as my trekking poles had been borrowed and I still didn't have them back. I found a stick, not perfect, and pretty heavy, to use to help me keep my footing across the ice. I found that I had better traction if I left the trail and hiked up through the snow that hadn't been packed down as much.
There was quite a bit of ice, and quite a few people had left
the trail to try and avoid it.
In roughly 2.5 hours I made it to the lake. I had been passed on the way up by two women who were planning on doing the Pfeifferhorn, and a guy coming down who had already been up on that peak and was heading home.
When I got to the lake, I sat there and ate some snacks, admiring the scenic beauty of the surrounding peaks. I looked over at the ridge that separated Red Pine from White Pine and knew that today wouldn't be the day that I'd duplicate that hike that I'd done with my dad, siblings, and friends in the early 1970s. The way up to the ridge was steeper and longer than I'd remembered it and it looked rather intimidating considering how tired my muscles felt after slipping and sliding on the icy trail.
If you look closely in the middle of this pic you can see the two guys
fishing. The prominent peak is Little Pfeifferhorn.
Two guys were fishing in the lake and I thought about walking around to where they were and asking them how the fishing was. I ended up not doing so, again, my tired legs not wanting to go to the trouble. About that time I was wishing I had come with a hiking buddy to kind of spur each other on. I need that sometimes and while I normally hike alone on a regular basis, to me it's just as fun or even more fun to hike with a friend.
Yours truly taking it all in.
I took some pics of the lake and peaks and then headed down. I found my stick that I had left once I reached the flatter part of the trail near the lake, I was glad I had picked it up again just a little later as I stepped on some ice and my feet went right out from under me. The only thing that kept me up was my arm strength on that planted stick.
I ditched the stick when I felt I no longer needed it (you can see it lying across the trail in the Maybird fork picture above), and made my way down the rest of the trail. There were two more deer of which I caught fleeting glimpses, further up in the brush, when I left the trail for a minute.
The rocks where my son Ben and I had stopped with my grandkids
to eat lunch back in the summer.
I continued on down and soon I was back at the parking lot--maybe a little bored, now that the hike was over, but looking forward to the next adventure and thinking about the last one.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Putting the garden to bed

Over the years, I have prided myself on how long I can keep the tomatoes growing in the garden. Before we moved here in 2013, I used to take sheets outside and cover the tomatoes any time it looked like the weather would be cold enough to freeze. I haven't done that since we've lived here. Part of the reason is that with our daughter, her husband, and their four children living in our basement, I have no place to store the greenish tomatoes for later ripening. One thing a lot of people don't know is that if you have tomatoes that even have a little bit of color on them indicating that they are turning from green to red, you can pick them, store them, and they will eventually turn red. They don't taste the same as vine ripened tomatoes, but it gives a little more life to your garden.
This year I had mixed results with my garden. Early on, the peas and lettuce did well, but I had less success with my onions. Later on, the beets grew like champs, and the chard just keeps on coming, but the biggest Atlantic Giant pumpkin I grew was about the size of a bowling ball, and the tomatoes, which last year I had coming out of my ears, were sporadic and small.
Pea vines, weeds, and the forks that were supposed to keep the cat out
and didn't work.

Picked beets sitting in a basket for later use.

The picked Atlantic Giants, along with the tomatoes and chard.

My lens cap adds a bit of comparison as to the size of the tomatoes.

Chard was the biggest success of the season. Anyone want some?
About a month ago I began removing things out of my raised beds, until now, all that's left to be removed is the tomato plants (they still haven't died of frost, but they are no longer producing much at all), and the chard, which is growing like a weed. I am off today for Veteran's Day, but planning on hiking, so on my next day off (not counting Sunday) I will rip up the tomatoes and chard and put the garden to bed for the winter.
There were several bright spots in my garden this year, but the best surprise I had was that when I inspected my grape vines, which to all appearances were hardly growing, I found three unexpected grapes. I had planted them in the spring and expected nothing. They are Concord grapes and they were just past their prime, but hadn't started to wrinkle, so I ate them. So sweet! I can't wait for next year!

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Hiking: Porter Fork

I needed to get in a good leg/cardio workout today. I didn't want to go to the gym, and I had about an hour and a half this afternoon to do a little bit of hiking, so I headed for Millcreek Canyon. Some of the trails lower down in the canyon were packed, so I decided I'd hike up the paved, but gated, road at Porter Fork.
It was about 1.5 miles to where the road ended and I wanted to make it to that point before I turned around. For those who've never been up this trail, it goes through a cabin area and that's why it's gated. They don't want just anyone driving up there. The road itself is quite steep and I pushed it to get my heart and lungs working. The steepness would take care of the leg workout. Anyway, I began hiking at 2:23 pm and felt that I could hike until three and still make it home when I needed to be home.
The trail winds up the road past a beautiful stream, and through a nicely forested area around the cabins.
I ended up getting within eye shot of the pavement ending at 3:00, and took an extra couple of minutes to actually get to the dirt part of the trail.
Sign right where the pavement ends.

About 25 feet after the pavement ends the wilderness begins.
I only took my cheap camera--my phone--with which to take pics. Of course, that helped me to hike faster not having to pack my Canon digital SLR.
I've traveled this trail a few times in my life. When I was a kid, I came up it a couple of times in the winter to spend some time in a cabin that one of our Scout leaders owned. I also spent a night with a friend at that same cabin catching worms for our Scout week camp which was coming up the next week.
Could this have been the cabin I stayed in as a kid? I wasn't sure, but I thought maybe it was.

Later on, just a few years ago, I climbed the trail once alone, and once with a friend. It eventually links up with other trails leading down into Big Cottonwood, or over to Mt. Raymond and Gobblers Knob. The time I went with my friend, my friend's wife dropped us off at Porter Fork and then picked us up later in the day on the Big Cottonwood side. Today there were a lot of people up in the canyon for November 6th, but not tons of them on the same trail as me. That made it a little nicer. It was cool enough to wear a light jacket, but I had sweat coming off my forehead by the time I made it to the end of the pavement. I took time to notice on the way down how peaceful it was, and it smelled heavenly up there. A short adventure, but well worth the effort.
With late afternoon coming on, the distant peaks looked Beautiful

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Barry Manilow hate him now, thank him later

Someone who once went to a Barry Manilow concert told me that Barry, as he looked around at all the husbands, boyfriends, or other men who had been dragged by their wives, etc. to the concert quipped, "you guys out there are hating me now, but you're gonna thank me later". Of course, he was referring to how his love songs might affect each relationship in a positive way. I always made fun of Barry as I was growing up, but then, I always knew the words to his songs. Here's one that's a classic--Looks Like We Made It. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Time for Love by Earl Klugh--great soft jazz

This song calms me, and boy did I need calming tonight. I wish you peace and goodness tonight and always.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Hiking: The Prince of Wales Mine

Last week I had the opportunity to do some hiking up Little Cottonwood Canyon in Utah's Wasatch Mountains. My destination was to be the Prince of Wales mine up in Grizzly Gulch. I had never done this particular trail before and a lot of the write-ups on it had said that the trailhead is across from the Alta Guard Station. I got up to Alta just after 8:00 and it was light enough to see. I looked around for the Guard Station and could see it nowhere, though there was a parking area and the truck that had been ahead of me on the way up had parked in it. I drove further up the canyon, but soon got to where the pavement ended and the road continued on to Albion Basin. Before the pavement ended, I turned around and drove slowly through the parking lot where the other vehicle had parked, looking for a trail going up. There ended up being one, quite close to the other vehicle. The parking lot is actually just a little east of Alta's Snowpine Lodge.
As I got out, I still wasn't sure I was in the right place, and the sign for the trail, which wasn't actually visible from the parking lot, did nothing to increase my confidence that I was on the right trail. It said nothing about either the Prince of Wales mine, or Grizzly Gulch.
The sign is a few feet off the road and says nothing about Grizzly Gulch or the Prince of Wales mine.
I went up the trail about 30 feet and stood there, trying to figure it out for a few seconds. Several cars then drove into the parking lot and I decided to wait and ask someone if they knew if it was the right trail to where I wanted to go. My patience was rewarded a couple of minutes later when two women hiked past me and I asked them if they knew and they confirmed that I was on the right trail. They said that they were trying to get a head start on the rest of their group and they were all headed to a different location from the one I was heading to.
Early morning view from the lower portion of the trail.
I saw this doe looking interested in the early shadows
The trees were just plain BEAUTIFUL!

And the views were FABULOUS!
The morning was beautiful for a mid-October day. It was a bit different from most of the hikes I've taken in the Wasatch Range because the mining activity was so prevalent, and indications of it were everywhere, from mine dumps, to old rusty equipment, to the remnants of old buildings. A couple of mine dumps converged with the trail going right between them. I called this part of the trail, the cleavage, and you can see why in the pictures.
The cleavage
Not far past "the cleavage" the trail headed upward and I could see someone ahead of me moving slow. It got rocky, and I caught up with the woman. She was clearly at least 70, and I walked with her over the rocky part, which lasted maybe 200 feet. She said she had gotten a big head start from her hiking group because she hiked so slow, and that she wasn't going to the mine that day, but taking another fork. She knew the area very well and told me that up ahead the trail would split she'd show me which way to go. She also told me about a short spur off the trail to the mine that led to an overlook of Honeycomb Canyon, which is part of the Solitude ski resort. When we made it to the fork, I told her I admired her for still being up there and that I hoped to be still hiking these trails when I was sixty like her. She then introduced herself as Eleanor. I told her my name. And it's true that I admire her and hope to be hiking well past eighty myself. I'm sure me and whoever I'm with at that time will be hiking just as slow as Eleanor, and to tell you the truth, I hope Eleanor is still hiking by then.
One of the old abandoned buildings.

There was plenty of mining activity in the area.
Eleanor had told me to stay high and to not take any of he lower forks in the trail because that would bring me out beneath the mine. I stayed high at one place and that ended up being the spur trail that led to the view of Honeycomb Canyon. That spur is just about 100 yards from the mine, I found out later, and is well worth the effort of taking as it's very short--maybe two hundred feet from where it takes off from the main trail.
Great views abounded.

You can see why Eleanor said to stay high. It would be a steep climb up if you ended up too low.
The trail to view Solitude goes to the right of these rocks. 

Solitude's Honeycomb Canyon. If you look really hard, you can see one of the ski lift buildings
 in the middle of the photo.
The faint trail to the Solitude overlook is here, going up to the right. To the left is the mine..
The mine itself consists of two grated shafts and some old equipment. There is room to get under the grates and into the mine shafts if someone really wanted to. I didn't. I took some pics of the shafts, the equipment, and the views, which were awesome. The mine itself is at over 10,000 feet in elevation, so you can see quite a distance.

I couldn't resist doing some experimental photography with the old mining equipment.
After a while, I began retracing my steps. When I got to the rocky portion where I had met Eleanor, I wanted to take a picture of the spot to post here. I began taking out my camera and slipped on some loose gravel on the slippery rocks, losing my balance, and slamming my camera onto a rock. I lost the battery cover and the camera wouldn't turn on. I spent ten minutes searching for the cover, but was unable to find it.
The rocky place where my camera got banged up. I had to order a new one and it cost me twenty bucks.
Luckily, it was just the camera that got hurt, and not me.
I took a picture of the spot with my phone and continued downward, disappointed in the loss of my camera. Somewhere on the lower portion, I passed a group of people. I didn't really look at them and I found out later that one of them was my cousin, Melanie. So funny that neither one of us knew.
As I approached the bottom, the sun lit up the quakies with a brilliant yellow orange and I had to take some pics. They weren't as good or as detailed as what I would have gotten with my Canon T2i, but they turned out pretty nice. In all the hike took me about four hours, and that was with a lot of stopping for pics etc.

I would highly recommend this hike, even for children, though parents would need to be careful with them around the shafts.