Monday, August 14, 2017

Love Me Over Again: A Don Williams Classic

Back in 1980, the voice of "the Gentle Giant", Don Williams was heard frequently on the country radio stations. He actually had quite a few big hits, such as Some Broken Hearts Never Mend. Good Ole Boys Like Me, and many more. This classic, Love Me Over Again is one of his best. I'm posting two versions, because I can't find a live video of him singing it, except when he's older--and the recording is a little hard to hear. Anyway, here's the earlier recording and a later live recording. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Care for the caregivers

In writing on this subject, I run the risk of sounding like I'm complaining. And yet, I feel the need to open the eyes of people to situations they may have under their very noses, within their own family circle or conclave of friends.
Among the vast throngs of people existing on this planet, there is a group of people, scattered across the globe, who are called “caregivers” or “care partners”. I heard the latter terminology used by Jennifer Brush and Kerry Mills, authors of a book called I Care:  A Handbook for Care Partners of People with Dementia. That being said, caregivers or care partners, whichever terminology you prefer, involve a wide range of people caring for others with a wide range of challenges.The challenges may be mental disorders, such as Alzheimers or other forms of dementia, or those for whom care is given may have physical challenges for which the causes are myriad. In my case, I am caring for my wife Ann, who seven years ago, was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogrens Disease, and Fibromyalgia. Those of us who are caregivers do not think of ourselves as angels or saints, or anything of the kind. Personally, I am an ogre on a frequent basis. Most of us are just people thrust into a situation they never wanted to deal with, but who are doing the best they can. In most cases we are barely hanging in there.
For the past few months of this year—since January actually—Ann has been in some extreme difficulty, which has required much more of my time. Before that, she was able to get out of the house on her own, make her own meals, and pretty much take care of herself. Since January, she is debilitated to the point where she cannot shower without help, often requires assistance when using the bathroom, cannot stand long enough to get her own meals, and cannot drive herself anywhere. As you can imagine, this has put a huge burden on me to help her with those things.
Since I am not old enough to be retired, I work a forty-plus (usually in the non-Christmas time of year it's around 45) hour week at the U.S. Postal Service as a letter carrier. Our daughter Rebecca, and her husband Justin, along with their four children live in our home. Justin works outside the home, and has a heavy schedule both at work, and doing things for his LDS church calling. There is a level of dysfunctionality within their family and while I'm at work, Ann receives sporadic care. I make sure she is fed breakfast before I leave, and I put her lunch in a small cooler. When I come home, I get dinner ready—or pick it up somewhere—it has become harder and harder for me to have the desire or energy to actually make dinner—and then spend the remainder of most nights at home with her. She has been home watching something on television all day, or sometimes reading, and is bored. I then become the entertainment by playing board games several nights a week, or watching something with her.
While I love spending time with Ann, there are certain chores that need to be done, such as lawn mowing, weeding, and even stuff inside the house like washing walls, scrubbing floors, and cleaning bathrooms. Going to the store for needed groceries becomes a challenge because there is a certain amount of guilt placed on me when I hear Ann's words, “you're leaving me again?” Even going to lunch with a friend or attending church meetings are filled with guilt trips for desertion. All of these chores and activities get postponed or not done at all because of Ann's need for companionship. Busywork, such as contacting my medical insurance for forms, or getting reimbursed by my Flexible Spending Account get pushed aside so that I can meet Ann's immediate needs. I believe these things are common among caregivers and that I am not alone.
I have the added challenge of the other family members who live in my house not totally functioning, and I end up having to clean more (and other great challenges) because of that than I would were they to move out. However, Ann is insistent that they remain with us until she can care for herself, despite their limited contribution. If they were fully functioning, they would be a great help, instead of an extra burden, which I would welcome, wholeheartedly.
One of my personal challenges and one that is common to caregivers, is caregiver burnout. It takes a lot out of a person to care for another constantly. Breaks are needed. Those of us who appear to be “handling” it well, are often not doing as well as we should, or even could be. I am strong. Very strong. I make it a point to not whine and I try to put a positive spin on things. I blog excitedly about my adventures, and I use my sense of humor frequently. To outsiders, or even sometimes close friends and family members, this can look like I'm doing okay, so no need to help. The stark reality is though, that us caregivers desperately need those close to us to step in, often without being asked, and lend a hand.
When Ann first came home from the hospital in January, some of the people from the church I attend offered to help. At that time, I turned it down, largely because I was embarassed that we even needed it considering we had family living with us who were able-bodied and should be shouldering the load. Nobody from outside really knows how dysfunctional our household is, and it's actually not easy to explain to people. I am reminded of these words from the book of James: “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” (James 2:15-16)
In the past, I have used hiking and other activities to get myself a break from the caregiving. This year, because Ann took a turn for the worse, I have been able to get out far less than in the past. I have been afraid to schedule anything with anyone because of the times when I've had to call and cancel because Ann's needs were acute at the time the activity was supposed to take place. I think these kinds of things are common to other caregivers as well. Yet we caregivers need to take care of ourselves if we are to continue taking care of our loved ones. One thing I've been able to do on a fairly consistent basis is get to the gym. I go on my way home from work. I think stopping home first would keep me from going back out. What I could really use is a few days away from things, just to rejuvenate. I just don't see that happening. What would really be a blessing would be for Ann to get well enough that she could do many things for herself again. I think that will happen some day, but it's a slow process.
Another thing that caregivers are often challenged with is companionship. In many cases it becomes one-sided. One can give, and one cannot. It isn't the fault of the one being cared for, but it is a reality for many and hard to deal with. I have no idea what the solution is, but just being mindful of that challenge is a big help.
So my plea is for those who love the caregivers and those they care for to be aware of what's happening, not just visibly, but behind the scenes as well. And take some time from your busy lives to pitch in for a day or two a month. You will be blessing the lives of others, and the Lord will bless you for it.
One thing I think I have going for me that perhaps many other caregivers don't is that I always believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel—even if I can't currently see it, I know it's there. And I know that God is helping me endure and survive, and eventually wear the victor's crown.

Now, I hope that looked more like explaining than complaining. All you folks have an amazing day!

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Lagoon: where memories were made

The other day, I happened to catch part of a documentary on Utah's Lagoon amusement park's history. The show involved historical facts about the place that were new to me. As they showed photos from the past though, it brought back many memories for me and the times I spent there as a youth. I haven't been there in many years--since my kids were young--but there was a time...
My earliest memories of Lagoon were of our church group gatherings that we had there. Nearly as ancient in the history of my time spent there, was when I won the Pinewood Derby in my Cub Scout Pack and had the opportunity to race my car against all the other number ones in the state of Utah. Although I had rocked everyone in my pack, I got creamed at Lagoon. I think they gave everyone who didn't win a fourth place ribbon.  I still have that car, tucked away in a box.
I remember they used to have some spinning things that you dumped paint into and made some cool looking pictures. That was somewhere along the midway.
They had that huge "million gallon pool" I swam in that a few times. There was always a lot of things to do there. I used to love the Wild Mouse and the Roller Coaster, and the train that took you past all the wild animals.
There was the time that I went with our neighbors, the Howells, to Lagoon and they forgot one of their kids and we had to go back and find him. He was in the office, eating an ice cream cone that some kind person had given him. That was in the days before cell phones.
I remember the huge area with picnic tables and going there and eating Kentucky Fried Chicken and lots of other things.
Then there were the school trips. I remember going in 9th grade, and I think one other time with my classmates. It was fun.
Over the years I remember how weird it was in the Fun House, how we got out once in the Terror Ride, inside the building, not where you're supposed to get out--and how one of my friends got sick after riding the Hammer or whatever it was. I didn't laugh. There were some rides that I just didn't feel well after riding. The Tilt-O-Whirl was on that list. I remember a guy trying to guess our occupations. He said I was a welder, but in reality, I worked at an ice cream restaurant (Farrell's) at the time. Of course, I got a lot of nicks and scrapes scooping ice cream, so I can see how my hand's may have looked like welder's hands.
Such a fun place was bound to become a place to take dates. I remember doing that too. As a teenager, I perfected the basketball shooting arcade game, and the game where you knocked down Coke cans with bean bags. I won a few stuffed animals and gave them all away. Pioneer Village had become part of Lagoon by my teenage years and they had one of those Old West photo places--where you dress up like a cowboy, or pioneer woman, etc. It's funny--that's all I remember about Pioneer Village, because I had my picture taken there with a date or two.
The last time I went to Lagoon was when my kids were young--sometime in the 90s. Lagoona Beach water park had replaced the "million gallon pool" by then and I think we spent more time in the water park then we did riding rides, or playing games along the midway. By then, the prices had risen dramatically and I pretty much decided that unless I was going with someone who would really enjoy it--Ann didn't enjoy the rides all that much--it wasn't worth it to me to pay the big bucks to get in. I could go to water parks without having to do the rides somewhere else, like Raging Waters or something.
I bet that if I went there now, there have been a lot of changes made since the last time I went. But I also think a lot of it would be the same. Hey, do they still have those paddle boats? That's what inquiring minds really want to know.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Hiking and Four-wheeling: Timpanogos/Sagebrush Flats

I knew I had a hike coming up this week, but I hadn't yet decided where to go. I wanted to go somewhere that I'd never been before. These days, since I am a caregiver for my wife, where I go and how long I stay is pretty much dependent on her. Once she and I talked about how long she felt comfortable with me being gone today, I decided that I wanted to go to Sagebrush Flats, up near Mt. Timpanogos. The thing is though, I had no idea what it was called, so I jumped onto the Facebook page "Hike the Wasatch" and started asking questions. It didn't take long before the good folks there had me up and running.
I found out that the name of the place I wanted to go was "Sagebrush Flats" and the name of the mountain I could see in front of Mt. Timpanogos was "Mahogany Mountain". I also found out that there are at least three ways to get there. There are two trails (that were mentioned) that begin at the base of the mountain, and there's also a road that goes into Sagebrush Flats. I decided to take the road, thinking that once I got there, there would be some hiking that I could do. There were two reasons I chose the road instead of hiking the entire distance.
The first reason was that with my limited time today, that sounded like the most effective way to use it. The second reason was that my owner's manual says that I need to drive my 4runner in four-wheel drive for ten miles once a month. Since my time hasn't permitted me to go four-wheeling often enough to meet the suggested amount in the owner's manual--and since I love four-wheeling nearly as much as I love hiking, that was enough to sway me into using the road. I figured that I could always come back and hike up the trail some other day. Although I didn't really need my four-wheel drive, except for one mud puddle where I would have gotten stuck in two-wheel drive, high clearance is a must on this road. As it was, it turned out nearly perfect.
The road begins up American Fork Canyon. You pass Timpanogos Cave National Monument, then pass the turnoff to Tibble Fork, and continue on up the Alpine Loop Road to the turnoff for Timpooneke Campground. As you continue up the campground road,  you will pass the parking lot for the trailhead to the top of Timpanogos. This one is appropriately named Timpooneke Trailhead as opposed to the other popular trailhead at Aspen Grove.
Once past the trailhead you continue on up the paved road which soon becomes dirt. Well, dirt, rock, and since it had been raining nearly all night, mud and mud puddles! These are some of my favorite places in my 4runner. On the way in, I drive through the puddles somewhat cautiously, but on the way out, once I have driven through them safely, I hit the gas hard. If you have never done it, I suggest it. Make sure you close the windows--or leave them open on whomever you'd like to soak!
Part of every expedition I go on is scouting for future outings and on this trip I found plenty of camping, hiking, and picnic opportunities.
After about five or so miles on this road, a left fork headed toward Utah Valley, and the right fork, headed straight toward Mahogany Mountain. I took the right fork as it looked like my hiking for the day was going to be up onto the mountain in front of me. The road ended in a loop with a trail heading off to the west. I took the trail and headed up. At that point, the trail was pretty much heading straight up, with no switchbacks. I had to stop and rest frequently, and the views of the surrounding land were amazing. Low clouds hung around the peaks, and I could see down into Utah Valley on one side, and Salt Lake Valley on the other. Wildflowers were in abundance.

Continuing up the trail, I noticed very quickly that there was no way I was going to stay dry. The undergrowth was soaking wet from the rain that had fallen overnight--the rain that looked like it could come back any minute. My shoes and socks were soaked through in the first five minutes of hiking, and once I got into the higher grasses and brush, my shorts became soaked as well.
The trail tops out on a little knob with incredible views before plummeting downward into another part of the flats, and then up again through quakies until it reaches the ridgeline. At least, I think that's where it goes. As I entered the part of the trail that went through the quakies, the underbrush got higher, and I realized that I soon would be soaked from head to toe if  I continued much further. Looking at my watch and noting the time, I thought that there would be no way to make it to the top, or even the ridge before I'd have to turn around anyway, so instead of getting soaked with no hope of getting to a place with any better views, I headed back down.

Looking northwest toward Salt Lake County

About halfway back the rain started again. lightly at first, so I left my rain jacket in my pack. The closer I got to the trailhead, the harder it began to rain. I stuck my camera under my arm a bit and decided I could make it the last quarter mile without having to put it in the plastic bag that I always carry for that purpose inside my pack.

When I got back to the vehicle, I decided that I'd like to drive down the other fork in the road for about five minutes or so, but on the way back to the fork I spotted a female moose and two calves. I couldn't get close to them (and didn't really want to because mama mooses can be dangerous) and I had left the big zoom lens at home, so I took the best shot I could with the equipment I had.
Mama moose and two babies.
After that,  I drove down the other fork a ways, including through a thrilling mud puddle, before deciding that I would one day come back and follow that road all the way. I turned around and drove back down, hitting the puddles along the way, a smile on my face.
The cliffs of "Timp" shrouded in clouds
Thankfully the mud puddles were more water than dirt.
The adventure was over, but once again, it had left me with more places to go and more things to find out. I would be back some day, but until then, there were so many places to explore, that I knew I would never run out.
One thing I'm always on the lookout for is a nice picnic area.

This is Make Out Rock. No further info provided.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Hiking: Desolation Lake

This past Thursday was the perfect day for a hike. I am glad that I have a rotating day off that allows me to hike without a lot of other people. It's a great blessing really. This time I decided to go to Desolation Lake, an approximately 7.8 mile hike. I had done this hike once before, when my two sons were much younger and I was too, although, I had been up this trail part way several times since then. One of the times had been on snow shoes with a group of friends.
I got off to a later start than I normally like. I began hiking at 7:41 AM, the sun already well up. Still the air was cool at first and I found out once again that my stair climber portion of my workout program was paying dividends. The first couple of miles, up to where the trail splits and the left fork goes to Dog Lake (.6 more miles from there) and the right goes to Desolation Lake (1.9 more miles), went easily for me. I generally get passed by some of the younger folk, and nearly every time by an old “billy goat” a gray-haired guy in his seventies. Since I never saw the billy goat, I started thinking that maybe I'm personally moving into billy goat status myself. I'm not even in my sixties yet, but eventually you've got to consider  with pride that the older you get and keep having adventures, the more billy-goat-like you become. I admire those older people who can hike like billy goats. I got passed later by a trail runner, and that's it for people passing me. It's not that I was hiking fast, it's that with less people, there are going to be less people who hike faster—simple arithmetic.
As I meandered up the trail, at first, the sounds of vehicles on the Big Cottonwood Canyon Road could be plainly heard below. As time went on, however, the sound dissipated and eventually vanished as I moved deeper into the canyon and higher in elevation.

Flowers adorned the path, still not in full splendor, but about ready to break forth in mid-summer radiance. A gentle breeze pushed the fragrant scent of the evergreens toward me. The sound that had been cars below, became birds now, and Tiger Swallowtail butterflies and others flitted here and there.
I enjoyed just looking at the trees and lush plant life, sure signs of an abundant water year, and the views of the surrounding peaks were fabulous.

By the time I got to the lake, my stair climber preparation had worn off and I was getting tired.  It had taken me about two hours and twenty minutes from trailhead to lake, and that included stopping to take a lot of pictures. I left the trail at the lake to get up higher and see what I could see, maybe get some better photos of the lake.
Coming back down and circling the lake, I found the spot, under snow, where my sons and I had stopped to skip rocks across the surface of the lake years ago.
Where the furthest left snow patch is, that's where we once skipped rocks.
There had been some perfect rocks for skipping back then, but since the area was under a couple of feet of snow, those rocks were nowhere to be found. Thankfully, I had picked up a nice rock on the other side of the lake and I got as close as I could to the place where we had thrown them before and let it fly. I guess I have an old goat shoulder now too, and hadn't warmed up properly—it hurt to throw. I thought that maybe I'd do better if I had done some spring training...

As I rounded the lake and got to where the trail split off and  went to the north east, up to the ridge, a mountain biker came roaring down the trail. I wasn't on the trail that time, but all the mountain bikers I had seen that day had been courteous and had been watching out for hikers.
I was reminded that I was very close to a very large population of people and that we all can enjoy our various activities in the mountains. For example, I saw no one having a picnic, but there were many nice areas to lay out a blanket and have some food if one were so inclined. There are always many things to do in the mountains.

I sat down then and took a few more pics, ate some of my snacks and then headed back down the trail. On the way down, I took more shots. That's what it's like, hiking with me. This time, I was trying to get some of the butterflies in flight. Most of them wouldn't land, so getting a still shot was going to be tough. I noticed that the Tiger Swallowtails were meeting members of the opposite sex and then disappearing. Probably to a butterfly motel room somewhere.
There's a butterfly in flight here somewhere.

I finally found one that stood still for a moment and caught this pic.
Finally I got back to the parking area, my heart and mind elevated and refreshed—my spirit renewed. As always, the adventure ended too soon, but I knew there would be another one, and I couldn't wait.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Story of My Life - Neil Diamond

Every so often a song comes along that touches my heart deeply. The Story of My Life by Neil Diamond is one such song. I have always loved this song. I believe it is Diamond's greatest song, and is probably in my top ten of all love songs. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Reposting this because Facebook won't

I don't know what it is. Does Facebook have a filter for the word "God" now?  I tried posting this article several times and it kept saying "try again later", but then when I liked a couple of things it worked just fine. Anyway this is an interesting article I found in the Deseret News this morning called, "How Some Christians Find God in Bryce Canyon and Other National Parks".

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Ribbon in Your Hair- Tim O'Brien

I always like introducing people to this very talented singer song-writer. Tim O'Brien is well-known among bluegrass/folk fans, but a lot of people have never heard of him. The song The Ribbon in Your Hair is a wonderful tribute to true love. Here are the complete lyrics to the song.

Strollin' on the strand one day
Back in the fall of '49
The sun was sinkin' in the west
When somethin' caught my eye
And through the dim and misty light
I saw the ribbon in your hair
As you turned around I found true love then and there

We never even met that day
Fate kept you and I apart
And though I traveled far and wide
Your vision filled my heart
Through the dark and stormy nights
Deep inside I always knew
I'd find the path that would lead me back to you

Now as I behold your bright eyes smilin' back at me
It's as if by fate's decree that we have this love to share
You only have to take my hand
To take me back in time
To the picture in my mind
The way the twilight shined
Upon the ribbon in your hair

Now our home's a holy place
Bathed in love's abiding light
It warms my heart to hear you tell me
How it feels so right
And may all lovers be like us
And never rest until they find
The lasting love that can bring true piece of mind

Now, give it a listen, and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

John Muir--never attacked by a bear

Some hikers and others spending time in the wilds have an irrational fear of bears. Sure, a bear can kill you. Absolutely they can be dangerous. But consider famed naturalist, John Muir. Muir spent much more time exploring wilderness than most, if not all of us, will spend in our lifetimes. He encountered bears on several occasions, in some instances, he feared for his life. Yet to the best of my knowledge, despite those encounters, was never attacked--even though there were far more bears back then than there are now. He did, however, have some mistaken assumptions about bears. Here's one example:

"...We found our way easily enough over the deep snow, guided by the topography, and discovered the trail on the brow of the valley just as the Bridal Veil came in sight. I didn't know that it was one of the famous falls I had read about, and calling Chilwell's attention to it I said, "See that dainty little fall over there. I should like to camp at the foot of it to see the ferns and lilies that may be there. It looks small from here, only about fifteen or twenty feet, but it may be sixty or seventy." So little did we then know of Yosemite magnitudes!
After spending eight or ten days in visiting the falls and the high points of view around the walls, making sketches, collecting flowers and ferns, etc., we decided to make the return trip by way of Wawona, then owned by Galen Clark, the Yosemite pioneer. The night before the start was made on the return trip we camped near the Bridal Veil Meadows, where, as we lay eating our suppers by the light of the camp-fire, we were visited by a brown bear. We heard him approaching by the heavy crackling of twigs. Chilwell, in alarm, after listening a while, said, "I see it! I see it! It's a bear, a grizzly! Where is the gun? You take the gun and shoot him--you can shoot best." But the gun had only a charge of birdshot in it; therefore, while the bear stood on the opposite side of the fire, at a distance of probably twenty-five or thirty feet, I hastily loaded in a lot of buckshot. The buckshot was too large to chamber and therefore it made a zigzag charge on top of the birdshot charge, the two charges occupying about half of the barrel. Thus armed, thegun held at rest pointed at the bear, we sat hushed and motionless, according to instructions from the man who sold the gun, solemnly waiting and watching, as full of fear as the musket of shot. Finally, after sniffing and whining for his supper what seemed to us a long time, the young inexperienced beast walked off. We were much afraid of his return to attack us. We did not then know that bears never attack sleeping campers, and dreading another visit we kept awake on guard most of the night."

While it isn't true that bears will "never attack sleeping campers", the fact that Muir spent so many days, weeks, months, and years in the wilderness without any kind of attack should give us comfort as we make our forays into the wilderness ourselves. Using simple caution, such as safe food handling and storage techniques in bear country, learning how to avoid making bears agitated, and going prepared for an unexpected attack will all go a long ways to a safer and more enjoyable experience. That doesn't mean you won't ever find yourself threatened by a bear. John Muir was, and ended up not being attacked--but those encounters can still occur.
In Utah's Wasatch Mountains, it's rare to even see a bear and I only know of one attack.

This bear came into our picnic site at Yosemite.
We grabbed all the food we could and threw it
in our vehicle before he got too close. Then
we made a beeline for the vehicle.

There was still a skillet and stove and a few other things we couldn't
grab on our table. The bear got them.
He bit into the box of matches, but didn't find them too tasty.
I still have this box of matches preserved in a zip lock bag.

We had cooked burgers in the pan. He pretty much licked it clean.
The bottom line is that a healthy respect for wildlife and a knowledge of their habits will help keep the rare bear encounter from becoming a life-threatening event. Learn safe techniques before you need them and you will be prepared, even if you never need to use them. And keep having the adventures. They are what make life worth living.

Monday, June 12, 2017

I like it French...

I decided to do an experiment today. I wanted something to go with our dinner of crock pot roast and baked potatoes, so I tried out a new recipe--french bread. I had never actually made french bread before, so this was an new experience. See, the way I look at it, is if you can't get away to have some experiences, like maybe Malibu or something, you've gotta make those experiences happen where they can happen. In my case it's right in my own little abode.
The bread went together pretty well, the only glitch being that the stated time for cooking was 35 minutes, and when I checked on the bread at 28 minutes, it was a little darker than I would have liked. I had rushed getting it in the oven, only letting it raise for half of the stated 30 minutes--mainly because it was getting a little later than I'd like to have dinner. That was my only critique I got from my wife Ann, who said that it needed to raise a little longer. Good thing I didn't wait too long though, because right after we finished eating, the power went off.
All in all though it was pretty tasty, and not nearly as hard to make as I would have thought.
Meet the new Bosch...same as the old Bosch (Who fans will get it.)

Rolled out and ready to go

As I said, a little dark, but still tasty