Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Farewell, Westies!

We said good bye to our dear friends, The Westenskows today.
They are moving to Green River, Wyoming
and we're pretty sad about it.
Addie and Hailey swapping books they made over the weekend.

Ad & Hailey, friends forever!

Rugrats on the front lawn at Westies' house

Funny, when they moved here in 2005, we had 6 kids between us. Now there are 11!

Niles loves Jillian...his "JILLIE BEAN!"

Me & Melissa...my sister & friend ("chins up")

We've had the best 7 years! Those smiles are for real, but they're chokin' back some tears, too!
("chins down"--lol)

Awww, and we were worried we didn't get pictures of Curtis who was busy helping his dad...

Luckily, we caught him Photo Bombing the girls.
He's such a great kid.

Last but never least, Hailey's POSE...
Oh, to be twelve :)

We wish you all the best, friends! We will watch your house for you and keep praying it sells and hope everything comes together beautifully in Wyoming. They are so lucky to have you.

HERE is one of my favorite Melissa memories, but it's only one in hundreds. Thank you, sister.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Summertime: Parts 4-11

Continuing our musical journey...

California Sun: The spirit of this song is timeless to me. It’s the universal “goin’ back to Cali” song and it reminds me of the dozens of California road trips I have taken in my life, especially those as a teenager and young adult, hitting the open road with my friends. Starting with a bus full of 8th grade “Pioneers of Music” from Magee Junior High School, to busloads of LDS Youth headed for Disneyland, to spontaneous college road trips to save our sanity during a tough semester, this song takes me back to good times cruising through the scorching desert on I-10 or I-15, heading to the shore.

Sugar, Sugar: It cracks me up that this song was recorded for a Saturday Morning cartoon. I think it’s such a great song, so fun to dance to. It first caught my attention in junior high when I heard it fading out on an oldies station and I noticed the refrain, “Pour your sugar on me, honey” was a lot like Def Leppard’s [then] contemporary “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” It’s so catchy and upbeat, and yet it’s kind of saucy and suggestive, and in that way it reminds me of XTC’s “Grass” and Grease’s “Summer Lovin’.” Summer lovin’ indeed. That’s all I have to say about that.

Margaritaville: I have this really funny, ironic picture in my head of a carful of Mormon kids heading home from a stake dance near midnight on a Saturday, singing along with Jimmy Buffet on the oldies station: “Wasted away in Margaritaville, lookin’ for my lost shaker of salt…” stone cold sober. High on life. The music, the island guitar…it all sounds so relaxing, I can almost feel a hot Mexico wind at la playa as I listen to it. It also reminds me of the summer before my senior year (1988) when I went to nanny for my cousin in Utah. Susie and Paul sent me hilarious letters almost every week. One of Susie’s letters included illustrated lyrics from this song of her own creation—pencil-drawn cartoons of a six string on the front porch swing, a flip-flop with a pop-top stuck in it, an arm with a tattoo of a “Mexican Cutie,”— totally random and so very Sooz. Love it.

Come Away With Me: The spring after Addie was born (2002), I got Norah Jones’ cd. It reminds me of being a newlywed and a new mom, endlessly rocking and nursing in our little Provo house, alone with my baby most of the time, in love with my sweet husband, wondering what the future held for us. It’s kind of bittersweet in my memory (post-partum, hello), but I am so glad Rich invited me to come away with him to Montana. Good call.

Hot in the City: Tucson. A million degrees. Junior High Summer. Eegee’s. Billy Idol blaring. Obnoxious 7th graders singing along. Loved it.

Hitchin’ A Ride: The official song of the BYU Ride Board. Back in the olden days, before the interwebs, there was a big map of North America in the basement of the Wilkinson Center. One side was labeled “need a ride” and the other said “need a passenger” or something like that. Kevin and I figured we could use the board to fund road trips, so we would just go find the most desperate-sounding “need-a-rides” and charge them like $40-50 (back when gas was less than a dollar a gallon, that was a ton of money) and go somewhere new. Once we even looked at a map, found the most direct route to the Pacific Ocean—Eureka, California is due West of Provo—and asked for riders on the board. We got two passengers and a free trip to the ocean between winter and spring semesters. Good times.

Summer Time: There is a hallowed pedestal in my musical memories for all of The Sundays’ music. I couldn’t love them more. The first time I heard them was on a tape Susie sent me when I left for college in Idaho, summer 1989. Her boyfriend, Jon, had gone to London after high school graduation and sent home tapes of “Reading, Writing, & Arithmetic.” We were hooked instantly. I was working at a record store in Rexburg, briefly, so I ordered the album and devoured it. Then I moved to Provo. Summer of 1990, I rode with Georgia and friends in Jake’s zebramobile (Subaru wagon) to downtown Salt Lake City to see The Sundays and Yo La Tengo at the Speedway CafĂ©. It was the best show I have ever seen as far as musical quality and skill goes. They sounded as good as or better than their cds—just flawless and beautiful. I loved that album and that time of my life. I could even say that “Can’t Be Sure” is kind of The Song on My Soundtrack for my first year away from home—at Ricks College, then later that spring at BYU. “Though I can’t be sure of what I want anymore, it will come to me later”—and it did.
Fast forward to Tucson, post-mission, living at my grandparents’ house with my brother Sam. I was 25, enrolled at the U of A to finally finish my BA, and The Sundays surprised us all by releasing their first album in five years. Sam hadn’t loved them before, but he fell in love with Harriet’s voice and cute face, and we enjoyed listening to that cd together. In fact, I took him to our nearest retailer to get the cd when I heard it was out, and that retailer was Barnes and Noble. He said, "Ew, it smells like coffee and nerds in here." As we walked out with my purchase, he said, “I've never spent a dime in a bookstore and I never will!” I thought that was funny. [Update: in our Sunday night chat, Sam didn't remember that trip to B&N, but he assured me that he has since then spent way too many dimes in bookstores...he's a renaissance man]

Three Little Birds: Much to my former-cop-uncle’s chagrin, we got my grandparents hooked on Bob Marley’s Legend cd when they got home from their missions to Africa and got a 6-disc-changer in their car. Grandpa put in some Strauss waltzes, The Les Mis soundtrack, James Taylor’s greatest hits, and Legend. He and Gram would crank it up when “Three Little Birds” came on. Every single time I hear that song, I think of my Gram bobbing in her seat in the Lincoln, singing, “every little thing’s gonna be all right.” It’s a funny story, but it has a serious foundation. Grandma’s faith and positivity are echoed in that chorus. They went through some harrowing experiences as they served in Nigeria, but they came home faithful and grateful and closer to God. I know that Grandma knows those Three Little Birds are right—everything is always gonna be all right.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

July Update

We camped at our favorite camp site at Pine Creek July 18-20 and hardly saw any fire damage there. I feel so grateful because it looks like the fire just jumped over our favorite spots--tender mercy!

Family ready for breakfast burritos

Niles & James, my sweet boys

Heidi & Daddy

Mama & Addie


Niles loved the hammock


Addie & the kids built a little fort and made an Adventurers Club, and you got a carved hiking stick with your membership.

Friday Night we enjoyed our annual Ward Dinner at the pavilion. Here's the Bishop chatting with Brother Carter.

Gloria J and Niles had fun after dinner

The Dinner Crowd

Heidi back at the campsite, ready for s'mores

James, Gavin R, and Niles enjoyed sitting by the fire. It was a fun campout, even though lots of our friends and their kids were missing this year.

Sunday afternoon, Cousin Maren and her family arrived after a whirlwind trip up from Willcox Arizona. Travis (sitting ont he ottoman in this picture) got out of the hospital with hemolytic anemia on Friday and they took off from Willcox on Saturday at 4pm our time and arrived at 4pm Sunday. TROOPERS! We enjoyed staying over at the ranch house with them!

Travis eating popcorn & watching "Three Caballeros"

Morgan and James are pals


Daphne is a tiny dolly!

Daphne still loves Addie.

And here is a random, fun picture of Niles in action at home...of course he is "VACUUMING!"

I plan to go take some pictures for a house update today, although the house is pretty full of stuff to install right now--cabinets and tiles strewn all over the place, but it's looking so good! Our builder projected finishing up and getting an inspection next week, but there have been a few glitches, so I am sure we are still 2- 3 weeks out. But it's coming along and it just dawned on me that I better start getting stuff organized and ready to move. Sigh. Giddyup...


Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Magic: I was 12 going on 13 in the summer of 1984. In 1983, my family had, much like the Jeffersons, moved on up to the east side and I was getting ready to start junior high school at Magee. I had made some new friends in the area and loved going to activities with our ward youth group. The previous year, I'd met Susan who would be my closest friend until college. I am six days older than she is, which seemed magically fateful to us at the time because we became Beehives the same week. That year two older girls, Sherri and Laura—Laurels!—took us under their wings and showed the adolescent ropes like big sisters. An older boy in our ward who was 15 had been flirting with me since the previous summer, and we all ended up at this youth activity at The Breakers waterpark. While we were all hanging out, this older boy had his friend come tell me to hang out with him. For me, this seemed like a little victory because everybody at the table had heard this request and knew he liked me. It made me feel super cool. My older friends said, “No way, she’s hanging out with us today!” which made me feel even cooler (in that superficial junior high way). We girls went over to the wave pool and I hopped on a raft, put on my sunglasses, and waited for the waves to start. At that moment, the loudspeakers blasted “Magic” by The Cars... "Summer, it turns me upside down, summer, summer, summer, it's like a merry-go-round!"  That song still takes me back to that very moment, stinging from sun exposure, air filled with the scent of chlorine and sunscreen, heart full of adolescent anticipation and excitement, feeling pretty awesome. It was the start of a really fun part of my life.

Summer of ’69: Something about this song reminds me of the halls of Magee Junior High. That’s the first place my mind goes when I hear it (probably because the Bryan Adams version was everywhere at the beginning of 8th grade, fall 1984), but I think it qualifies as a generally nostalgic song. I could easily make it autobiographical by tweaking the lyrics and singing about the summer of ’89, which turned out to be epic, but I won’t. I think the song is universally appealing, combining the intoxicating effects of summer AND first love AND playing music. That’s a recipe for some hardcore memory-making.

Where the Streets Have No Name: It’s hard to overstate the impact that “The Joshua Tree” had on my life in early 1987. I was 15, certifiably crazy in love for the first time, resting somewhat comfortably in my social niche as my sophomore year of high school came and went. We saw U2 and Lone Justice the first week of April (where I instantly developed a girl crush on Maria McKee), then got the great news that U2 was coming back in December to Sun Devil stadium and playing two nights. But the best part was that the tickets were $5 each. I kid you not. To this day, those jangling sounds of the guitar at the beginning of WTSHNN make my heart beat a little faster and take me right back to those cold, drizzly nights at the stadium when U2 began each show with that song. They would just about kill the audience with anticipation and stretch that intro out for 4-5 minutes, til we were all just screaming hysterically waiting for the song and the band to explode onto the stage. It was magic.

Here’s the backstory on that, though. At the beginning of 1987, I was in deep smit with Aaron. At the peak of it all, he found out he had to move when school got out. It was a perfect teenage tragedy, and “With or Without You” was the soundtrack for our sorrow. Those specific feelings were long gone, but that song was still almost too painful to listen to. Seriously, sometimes it still makes my chest all tight and gives me tummy flutters because it's stuck in my muscle memory, and it just perfectly captures the pain of separation. Interestingly, I have talked about this with other people and they have had the same experience. Twenty years later (or whatever) they still get choked up. Someone even said she still changes the station when it comes on. So kudos to U2 for writing an exquisitely painful love song. Anyway, back to the narrative—Aaron left and I survived. My junior year began and a boy that my friends and I had admired from afar the whole year before asked me to go out with him. I didn’t turn 16 until the end of September, so he offered to take me on my first real date: the premier of “The Princess Bride.” Um, yeah. Needless to say, we kept dating all the way through graduation because he was super cool. So it was with him I stood in the rain at Sun Devil stadium as we took our place in rock and roll cinematic history, our little lighters playing a supporting role in the film, “Rattle and Hum” (which we also went to see together the next year). PS: it was also with him that I took my first and last greyhound bus ride from Tempe to Tucson after that show. Never again. From then on, we traveled in his little green Fiat and later, his little white Festiva—“The Tic Tac.".

Next installment: What do The Ramones and Jimmy Buffett have in common (besides heavy drug use)?

It's You & Me in the Summer Time...

I’ve been looking for some framework into which I can fit some thought, memories, personal history, et cetera, so I can get myself back to writing. My mind and time seem to be spread so thin these days, I either have a great train of thought and no time to write it down, or I sit down to write and I am exhausted and uninspired.

Today I was working in the kitchen and I put on a mix cd called “Summertime” which I created about 10 years ago. It has a distinctly bubblegum-pop mixed with rocking-in-the-hammock mixed with let’s-take-a-roadtrip-I’ll grab-the-Big-Gulps spirit to it. Every song brought back distinct and fabulous memories from different parts of my life, I thought it would make a great framework for a collection of memories.

Much of my life I have felt a little embarrassed, even ashamed of my intense reaction/connection to music and also my crazy vivid memory. I come off as overly sentimental, but it’s not like I WANT to remember most of this stuff, it just gets recorded. It’s etched forever in my muscle memory, accessible when music pulls the trigger, while in the meantime I can barely remember what day it is or where I put my keys. However, when I turned forty I gave myself the gift of Not Giving Two Toots what others think and owning who I have become, so there ya go: I love music and it’s a trigger for powerful, vivid memories for me, like it or not.

Without further ado, let’s have a gander at the “Summertime” playlist:

Magic by The Cars
 Summer of ’69 by Bowling For Soup
Where The Streets Have No Name by U2
California Sun by The Ramones
Sugar, Sugar by The Archies
Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett
Come Away with Me- Norah Jones
Hot In the City- Billy Idol
Hitchin’ A Ride- Vanity Fare
Summer Time-The Sundays
Three Little Birds- Bob Marley
The Joker- Steve Miller Band
Free Fallin’- Tom Petty
Angel of Harlem- U2
I Want You Back- Jackson 5
Buffalo Soldier- Bob Marley
American Girl- Tom Petty
Drivin’ on Nine- The Breeders
Boys of Summer- The Ataris

This is the outline for my next few posts. See ya on memory lane!

ARIZONA! June 2013


Dear Loved Ones ,                                                                                We've enjoyed a great first week o...