Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sheepherders Unleashed

What did we do before we had digital cameras? If one had a Polaroid, one could take instant pictures, about 10 at a time. If one had a 35mm film camera, one could take as many pictures as one had rolls of films to expose. Then one could wait 10 days for them to be developed and get one good one out of the batch of a zallion.

Now? I can take hundreds of pictures, scan through them on the camera, get rid of stinkers and duplicates, download them, and select a little further, and then do all sorts of things with them. It's like magic! I'm telling you, my camera is the best toy (in conjunction with the computer, of course) I have ever owned. The only thing that makes it better is the photo editing software, which is another story altogether.

I had such an adventure at the old house that I took the sisters back with me on the weekend.

It is still an awesome house, but I looked more closely this time. The floors are NOT all linoleum tile. The middle room has carpet that looks like it came from the 30s, and some of the other floors had regular linoleum.

The poop room has a door leading out to an area enclosed with chicken wire. The door has one part of the lower panel kicked out where a small dog could go in and out at its leisure.

The little jutting-out room has the lovely double windows on the west and south, but it also has a tiny window on the east. Could a room be any better than having windows on three sides? I think not. This little window was decorated in the same way many of the other walls were: it had ivy growing in from outside. The windows were not broken; the ivy crept in through the dried window frame.

On the north side of the house . . . what? How did I know it was the north side? Silly! because that's where the moss was growing under the edge of the shingles on the low little roof, and the grass was growing in the angles. How did I know it was north! I mean, really.

Artsy-fartsy pictures are all well and good, but I like people in my photographs. I don't know who will want to scan through my10 zallion photos when I am dead to try to find anything worth keeping, but people pictures are usually keepers. Unawares poses are always good.

Oh, look. An artsy-fartsy picture. Who'da thunk it? Come on, bobwire (that's rusty barbwire) is always classic. You can even trim it to use as a frame for another picture.

We were having too good of a time to go home when we finished the first photo op, so we decided to go to Corinne and see what we could scare up there. How about the old haunted Corinne bridge? The story goes that the ghost of a young Chinese girl who was murdered walks the bridge at night. Many of the locals swear to it.

This is another of those pictures that will be lost to the ages in a very short time. This is a season kind of adventure. We came here in early spring, mid summer, mid autumn, and we will give it a try come winter to get the same stuff in snow. And may I just say here, who gives a rat's ass? Really, as far as pictures go, they are really a waste of time, but as far as spending the day with people you love having a good time? Priceless!

Oh look. It's the people I love! Give a click on it -- they are both pulling funky faces. What's not to love? Hell, that was a good day.

By the time we headed out towards Perry to see how the orchards were looking, we decided that since we'd come that far, we might as well go on to Ogden and hit The
Needlepoint Joint. Yarn! Give me yarn, then get out of the way!

Did you know that The Needlepoint Joint is only a few blocks away from the best ice cream in the world? We thought about that, and then talked about how Farr's Ice Cream is always crowded, no matter when you go there. It is absolutely worth the wait.

We ate ice cream on the way home, cackling like the hens we are. We were tired, full of ice cream, had our pictures and spend a pleasurable day with the sisters. Sisters rock.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Days Gone By

This was another photo op day. It took me to another time and my mind was spinning with the possibilities, probabilities, and the wonder of unknown lives.

There is an old, abandoned house in an isolated area that will soon be used by the local fire department boys for a practice burn. It makes more sense than just pulling it down. Some small trees were cut down, to avoid what they call candling, and starting fires where they are not wanted.

There was also a massive cottonwood tree on the south side. My job was to take pictures of the guys cutting up this huge tree. As soon as I drove down the little lane, my brain went wild at the wonder of it.

This place doesn't belong to now, kind of like me. Nothing would suit but for the pictures to be treated with Vintage and Old West actions from Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.

Who lived here? Who built it? Who added each of the rooms, one at a time, as they seemed to be? Was it generations of the same family? What did they do on warm summer days and on cold winter nights? Did some couple raise their children here, see them grow and move away, and grow old together looking out of these windows? The place spoke volumes to me.

This seems to be the back of the house. The large-ish looking room jutting out on the right looks kind of like a family room. The room that was probably the front room is in the center of the house. Under the sagging porch roof going in the back door is a tiny kitchen. I went inside, so I know.

The floors are all linoleum tile. Some places the wood is showing through, but not intentionally. It isn't a strictly empty house. Whoever left it didn't want the very large drawer full of 60s and 70s ladies' magazines. The fruit jars, spare linoleum squares, and boxes of nuts and bolts and odds and ends didn't make it to the next home either.

It has a homemade mirror on the front room wall that is right out of 1970. It is a piece of cheap, dark, wood paneling with mottled mirror tiles mounted on it. Godfrey, it's ugly. I remember whole walls done like that.

I saw an old kitchen table with more jars and a couple of the old fashioned beer glasses that looked like 10 pound goblets. There was also a box of India ink bottles, expensive pencil leads, a broken antique inkwell, and a box of the tiniest pen nibs I have ever seen. Yes, I brought them home.

Someone looked at this sight after a day's work, and had the feeling of coming home. On cold nights, he stopped off on the right side of the porch at the coal bin and filled a coal scuttle to take in for the night. There is still coal in the bin.

The paint is peeling, the shingles are almost gone, the windows are rotting out of their frames. Inside isn't much better. Walls are peeling, floors are coming up. Cupboard doors are askew, as are the doors.

One tiny room that must be, or must have been, a bedroom is full of poop. Honest injun. Poop. The guys said it is dog poop, but I didn't care to check that close myself. It was just off another room that had a child's crayon drawing nailed up on the wall.

Somebody lived here and called this place home. I would guess that it was someone's home for many, many years. These walls have heard laughter and seen tears, and more recently, maybe something else. There were also empty wine jugs and an empty oxycodone bottle.

They may have cooked and heated with coal at some time, but the house had electric. Plugs were put in after the fact, as you can tell by the way they are placed on window sills and other similar places. You can also tell by the old electric washing machine that wasn't good enough to take along any more. Although the pictures call out for black and white, the drum on this rusted out little honey is my mother's favorite turquoise blue.

I expect this was the front of the house. This is where front-door company came. I think that at one time, this was a pretty little house. Maybe pretty enough for a young housewife to clean and love and take pride in, and for her husband to care for, protect, and expand over time. Just like everything else in this world, it grows old and decrepit and goes away. . .

. . . like the old cottonwood. Click on the picture and you will see a man in a hardhat on the left behind the foliage. The trunk was five feet across, and one of the limbs was big enough and hollow enough to stick a small person inside, if such was your desire. It too was old and getting decrepit. If you look at the area on the satellite map, you would see that the tree is so big that you cannot even see there is a house under it. It would have stood much longer too, if things had been different.

I got my pictures of the guys chopping up a big tree today.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Straw Maze

My youngest child turned 18 when I was 42 years old. That's a young age to be an empty nester, but I was willing to try. The only problem with that was that by then I had a little grandson with me. No empty nest, and I wouldn't have traded it for the world. Here we are 15 years later, and the little grandson is 18 and out of the house. Empty nest? No. I just traded for another little grandson - and his family. We are eight and the bull dog.

Little Man is four, and has a personality the size of Texas. He was my friend for sure the day I promised to take him to the straw maze. Tiny Dancer was going to come along, but she was sick and couldn't come.

The straw maze is at a local fruit stand, and is made of bales stacked three high. In the occasional corner, a bale sticks out so the kids can stand up on it at look over the wall. Grown up tall people can see down to the little noggins, and little eyes can look up and see comforting grown up tall people. It works. It was mid-morning, and he was ready for adventure.

He wasn't going to go all the way in alone at first, so he kept telling me to hurry up. "Go on ahead, Little Man. I can see you!"

Hey, this is getting fun! Do you see the tunnel behind him? I'm talking about the tunnel that is about 3 feet high. The one he talked me into crawling through with him. The one that nearly killed me. There was a nice straw floor over the rocks, but it was pretty thin. I'm not. It was kind of narrow too. I'm not.

He made it all the way to the middle to the straw stack he could climb up. He wasn't entirely sure about that. It was his first experience with straw, and learned that it could be a little slippery. It's also a little pokey on the hands. He was satisfied that he made it to the top, but he wanted me to come lift him down. He was tough and did it himself though, and it gave him confidence. Like he needs more of that.

OK, now this is getting fun. Do you know how fast a small kid can run in a circle? Pretty fast! The little scarey dolls hangin from various spots didn't even worry him anymore. He flew right past them.

This is a seriously posed picture, because even though they didn't worry him as much, he still didn't want one for his best friend. This guy was ugly! The sun was still too bright to look toward it for more than a split second too. He had places to go and ghouls to see.

What a face! I had to put this one in just because it's so goofy looking. Call me insensitive.

Now this is what I'm talking about! This is the king of the hill. Check out the muscles and the tough guy sneer and tell me this isn't a super hero. Granny was a super hero too, cause I took him. I'm his best friend when his mom isn't around -- and his dad has gone to work -- and his brother and sisters are in school -- and Grandpa is at work -- and the dog is asleep.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Employment History

Being an old bat, I have had a lot of jobs in my life. I started at Jessie's Cafe and then went to Brigham Apparel and Box Elder Enterprises. Both sewing places, the former made coats, jackets, and other outdoor wear, and the latter made leather vests, skirts, etc. Hey! This was 1970! Fringe was in and so was suede. None of those jobs lasted particularly long, since I got married and wives didn't work in those days.

Between 1970 and 1983 I worked occasionally and mostly not. I went to work for Thiokol in 1983. I worked in mixers when the space shuttle Challenger blew up, killing all the astronauts on board, then I went to tactical final assembly and built missile motors. After that, I built military flares. It was very interesting work, and some time I could tell you some pretty good stories about working with explosives, as well as vile jokes about dead astronauts.

Life at Thiokol has not been secure since 1960, and it still isn't today. I got tired of the uncertainty and volunteered for the layoff in 1992 and went back to school to learn to be a computer programmer. Nearly did it too, but I ran out of time and money and had to find work. My days were spent half at Alpine Gardens nursery in Perry, and the other half in Fleet Maintenance for Brigham City Corp. Full-time work for the city came to me in February of 1995, and I've been there ever since.

I've seen lots of changes since I was hired by the city in 1993. I still work for the Shop, but now I also work for the assistant public works director, water supervisor, street supervisor, parks supervisor, and the waste treatment manager. These include garbage, storm drain, compost, and recycling mixed in the pot.

It's a good job. It's secure, and I'm able to become acquainted with everyone who works for the city, just about. They all drive vehicles and they all need to be fixed, so I see everyone at one time or another. I have contact with all the employees in all the other divisions too. It's good work, and I don't think I'd trade it. They could always throw me out, but I won't go willingly, yet.

I plugged along, doing my secretarial duty for many years. Then, one day, I got a camera. Nothing has been the same since. I am the unofficial project photo documenterian. I have the best job in the whole city. Who else has the opportunity to get pictures like these?

This is the restricted side of the Mantua Reservoir. We have a project going, so I can take pictures.

Flood control. Great, isn't it? This is in Mantua again, along the cement ditch. They clean the snow out so the ditch is ready for the spring runoff. I had no idea how gloriously beautiful Mantua is on a sunny day in winter. I do now.

The people again. These are the only people I know, since I don't get out much. This is my friend, Verg. The dirty rat retired and is living his dream in Malad, Idaho. His sweet little wife is so happy she can't stand it. I miss them.

Who has the opportunity to go to the top of the old courthouse to take pictures? Moi! It was during the restoration and there was a scaffolding built all around the cupola. I made the circuit, taking pictures as I went. Nobody else, just me. Tell me I'm not lucky to have this job!

This was much more recent and went down instead of up. That little hole isn't a lot larger than my substantial circumference, but down I went.

This is what I found when I got to the bottom. I can't tell you where it is, because then I would have to kill you. Hint: it was wet. It was amazing, it was eerie, and it echoed something fierce. Who else has this kind of opportunity? I mean, really!

The city looks pretty small from this angle. Rumor has it that this spot - the bottom of this picture - is one of the places being considered for the new Brigham temple. Seems like a not so good place to me, but what do I know?

Been there - done that! This was the second subterranien venture in one day. Remember? Old fat broad! The guys were very kind and patient with me, and sort of hovered around like they would catch me if I fell. As if! I'd squash them like bugs, singly or all at once.

Oh, look. Scenery again. It was a long pickin' way down for a person who is not fond of high edges, but I survived. Not only survived, but thrived a little.

This is my only question remaining of the last photo op day. What is this? It's built of rocks and about 3 1/2 to 4 feet square and looks like it has been there for a long time. I bet it's the remains of the last old, fat secretary who tried to take pictures there.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Changing of the Seasons

Do you know what I like about Utah? I mean besides the fact that it's home. I like the seasons. We have four of them most years, and I like them best when they are changing.

Most people say we have one season: construction. Some say we have two seasons: winter and summer. I'll grant that you have to watch closely or you might miss the four hours of spring we have now and then, but they are glorious when they are here!

My favorite of all is fall. There is something about the winding down of summer, getting ready for the winter indoors, but still having generally warm days that I like. The days are pleasant, and the nights are perfect sleeping temperatures.

There are specific chores that come with each season. In the fall the garden goes out, and the garlic goes in. The canning and drying are done, and the shelves under the stairs are full of tomato stuff and jam. It gives one a warm, nesting kind of feeling.

We have some beautiful Autumn Burst Maples on both sides of our corner that turn scarlet before they fade and fall. We don't even have to rake those, because the neighbor wants them for his garden. He rakes 'em, bags 'em, and takes 'em. It works well for us. We have the shade in the summer, the beauty in the fall, and none of the work.

Then we have the chestnut tree. I love the chestnut tree. It's huge and shades the whole west side of the house, because it nearly leans on the west side of the house. Sure, it has all those blooms that fall all over the lawn in the spring, but they smell sweet as honeysuckle. When the spring storms come after that, they blow down millions of little green dingle balls, but they are soft and easy to rake or mow up. The dingle balls that stay in the tree grow. It's amazing how many are in the tree after a zallion of them blew out in the spring, but there you are.

Poor Hubby hates the seasons. He hates winter because it snows, he hates spring because of all the garden stuff, he hates the summer because he has to water and mow, and he hates the chestnut tree most off all. He says it doesn't even have the courtesy to loose all its stinking balls at the same time to get it over with. I don't want him to hate the tree, and I know raking makes his titanium knees ache like crazy, so for the last few years, I have done, or at least helped do, the ball raking. I don't mind it a bit.

Sometimes one finds treasures in the grass, like this little cluster of tiny toad stools. Come on, click on the picture so you can see them really close. They're awesome, aren't they?

See, if you just kind of amble along, slow but steady, it doesn't take long to have the grass looking good enough to please even particular Hubby.

See that tree next to the house? That bug sucker that is still about half full of balls? Look close and you will see the hammock under it too. Hey! Who's the kid? That was my little helper from one house down. He brought his daddy's shovel over and helped scoop all the raked balls into the can. He was a good worker, through the fun, and not so fun parts with never a complaint. I may hire him again. Things are looking good now, but I know it won't last.

Hubby got home in time to help scoop too. He'd been to Grandson's football game. He was very happy to see that we were nearly done - mission accomplished!

Later that night, I listened to the wind blow and the rain fall. Did I tell you I love storms? I do. I like weather that does something. Yup. It rained all right.

Would you lookee there? The wind blew last night too. I told you it would!

Evidently, it blew on both sides of the tree.

I guess it's a good thing I like the fall, and the storm, and the tree. It's also a good thing I don't mind raking chestnuts -- again.