Thursday, December 25, 2008

Western Washington is Buried!

I haven't downloaded any picture yet to share. Just wanted to mention that, instead of leaving Utah on Christmas Day like I planned I left on Christmas Eve. The forecast for Christmas Day in SLC looked awful and I couldn't risk getting stranded and not making it home for the mail route on Friday. I wasn't the only one desperate to get from SLC to WA. Check out this story. Drew found it and laughed out loud and the lengths people go to either get out of SLC or into WA. You decide which.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Douglas Charles Conrow

Most people who read this blog are already aware that Matt's dad passed away on Dec 17. We just finished writing the obituary so I thought it would be a good idea to post it here. Thank you for all your kind messages. I will be returning to WA on Christmas Day and returning to UT for the service on Jan 3. Matt will be staying in UT until after the service. I don't have much time to spend on the computer here in UT so I will write more about the experience once I am home.

Douglas Charles Conrow
Park City, UT

Doug was born January 26th 1936 in Big Timber, MT the son of John Moore and Ruth Ryan Conrow. He was raised in Butte MT and attended the Universities of Montana and Utah where he was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity. In 1964 he graduated with honors from the masters program in social work at the University of Utah and then returned to Montana to provide public welfare services and receive a promotion to the state director of training for the Department of Public Welfare. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) his career led him to working with families of the Shoshone and Bannock tribes on the Ft. Hall, ID Indian reservation where he founded the Ft. Hall Boy’s Club and left a piece of his heart with the people there. In 1969 he was recruited as Assistant Director to help found Weber County Mental Health Center in Ogden. In 1977 he became the Executive Director and for the next 11 years Doug was respected for his innovative programs, creative problem solving, and dynamic work environment. He was selected to be one of 25 mental health administrators (from 2000 applicants) to participate in an advanced training program offered by the National Institute of Mental Health. He held the title Diplomat in Clinical Social Work. In 1990 he moved with his family to Salt Lake City, UT where he continued his mental health calling through private practice psychotherapy and the development of programs at Valley Mental Health and the Utah State Department of Corrections. He was especially effective as a counselor in the mental health and women’s facilities at the Draper Prison. The common thread throughout his professional career was his belief in leveling the playing field and honoring the value of all humanity. In 1998 he retired to enjoy his family and friends as a resident of Park City, UT.

Doug’s way of divining the contents of a person’s heart and the careful and compassionate wisdom he offered as a mentor will be sorely missed by each and every person who knew him. Rare was the encounter with Doug that did not include his quick wit, easy laugh and generous hug. He had a great passion for lively discussions with friends and family and held to the belief that everything is better when complemented by unusual food and exotic creatures.

Doug was a restless and eternal questioner who delighted in the process of critical thought and in continually challenging conventional wisdom. He retained a sense of wonder and excitement at the world around him until the very end.

Doug passed away gently in his sleep at his home in Park City on the morning of Wednesday, Dec 17 2008. He was surrounded by family who sent him on his way filled with love.

A lively, old-fashioned, Irish wake was held at the family home on Saturday, Dec 20. He was well attended by family and friends, gathered to celebrate his life.

Doug leaves behind his wife, Nancy, three sons, John Conrow (Big Fork, MT), Mark (Jovita) Conrow (Ogden, UT), Matthew (Michelle) Conrow (Winlock, WA), and daughter Kate Conrow (Salt Lake City, UT), grandchildren, Tairah, Ashlee, Jace, Paige, Bryan, Damon, Chandler, Javier, Omar, Lance and Austin, and 5 great grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister Linda (Pat) McKissick and brother Steve Hancock, esteemed family member Dar (Win) Jensen, a circle of lifelong friends and his special feline companion Bronwyn. Doug is preceded in death by his parents.

The family would like to give special recognition to all the people who gave such extraordinary care and attention to Doug during his years of unexplained illness and his final battle with pancreatic cancer.

A memorial service will be held e on Saturday, January 03, 2009 at 12 noon at Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church, 4595 North Silver Springs Drive, Park City, UT 84098

In lieu of flowers, and to honor Doug’s commitment to research and helping others. the family requests any donations be made to Huntsman Cancer Institute

It was the little things in life that made him larger than life.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Good Riddance 2008

I am going to go on record as saying that 2008 was not the best year for me. Sure wonderful, new, interesting experiences were had but, as the year draws to a close, I feel worn out and thin. As I write this Matt is in Utah with his dad who was overtaken with an incredibly fast moving pancreatic cancer. It was discovered the week after Thanksgiving and we are all fearful that he doesn't have much time left. And by not much time I am speaking mere days. So, between Grandpa's passing, Doug's failing health and some other things I don't feel like sharing, the last quarter of 2008 blows. I guess it is coloring my mental review of the whole year. I should go back and read the blog from earlier days to remember that there were jollier times. I plan to fly to Utah in the next day or two, weather permitting.

Here is a video that makes me laugh. I am going to be reciting the following over and over: I am the penguin. I am the penguin.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Here Come the Contractors

In September 07 we bought this tub. It is now finally installed in our master bathroom! The plumbers were here last week and we are now rough plumbed. Next step is heating. Installation of our heat pump begins Monday.

Pipes mean that someday I won't have to fill a pan with hot water from the shower so I can do dishes on the table and then dump the pan out in the yard. Today I did the dishes pioneer style because something is wrong with the shower and I can only get warmish water so I had to boil water for my dishes. Someday soon I will have a real kitchen sink! Yay to the tenth power.

And what of the siding? We are still working on it. Here is a shot I took this morning:

Thanksgiving in Toledo

Walker waits.

The family waits.

Our hosts, Tom and Kathy, slaving away.

I did not take any other photos of the day! It was exactly as a Thanksgiving should be: family and friends visiting while lovely aromas drift from the kitchen. This was our first Thanksgiving in Washington. The last 3 we were in Utah. I hope all our Utah families had a wonderful holiday. You were missed and loved.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Audrey & Norah Like to Wrestle (All Day. All Night)

The cats themselves are quiet, just a few meeps here and there as they try to tear each other's ears off or de-fur one another's tails. What is not quiet is the bang-clanking they do as they rip around the house trying to pop their spay stitches. They slam into the basket of cans for recycling. They climb through stacks of magazines sending them splatting down on the floor. They do their level best to tear down the shower curtain. They flip over and inspect every shoe and boot in the hopes of finding a left over mouse or shrew to lord over a rodentless opponent. And on and on and on. They are currently each "sleeping" with one eye open.

Why Independant Book Sellers Sometimes Go Out of Business

I am really not trying to jinx our local bookstore (and by local I mean 20 miles north) with this title. But, c'mon people. With the likes of Barnes and Noble, and, in this neck of the woods at least, Costco's book section breathing down their neck you would think that our local purveyors of the written word would avoid section headings like this. If you can't read the section heading by clicking on the photo, it reads:
I get that it is meant to be funny. Maybe I must be menopausal to get the joke? I will return in 15-20 years and find out.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Yes We Clam!

Freshly rinsed clams trying desperately to escape the bucket.

Clams in my net. I am personally responsible for their untimely deaths.

The mighty huntress. In my left hand I hold the clam gun. Action shot to follow.

Tom shows how it is done. First you must find a little hole in the sand indicating a clam lurks beneath the surface. Then you plunge the clam gun down over the hole as far as you can and pull up a column of sand using suction. Hopefully the clam is in the column of sand. If it is you put it in your net and go after another one. If the clam is not in the sand you go back in the hole and dig down further. If you still don't get it you move to a new location.

Saturday, after the mail route, I went to the beach house with Tom. It was a clam tide weekend and so we loaded up dig supplies (clam gun, nets, lanterns) and drove up the beach to the spot that he swears offers up the best digging. I don't think I am allowed to reveal the location. Ever since we moved up here its been "clam this, clam tide that". As a vegetarian I poo pooed all the clam talk. I wonder if I must surrender my veggie credentials after this weekend. Why did I agree to participate in such a barbaric activity? Peer pressure. Plain and simple. I mean, everyone is doing it. Matt has already been initiated. I was beginning to feel left out.

Before going digging I said if I caught one I would eat a clam. I am backpedaling now. See, I didn't realize that when we dug them up parts of the clams would be wiggling outside of the shell. I thought everything would be all hidden inside the clam, no fuss, no muss. But that is not how it works. This fleshy, squirming thing-a-ma-bob hangs out the end all, "help me! help me!, the Horror!, the Horror!". I am sooo not down with that (tiny screams are ringing in my ears).

We bagged our limit of 15 clams each and clams are on the menu tonight. I will probably take a bite. If I do, it won't be because I am holding to my word. It will be peer pressure all over again.

Update: I put a bite of clam in my mouth and was chewing the rubbery awfulness when Matt said, "ha ha. you are no longer a vegetarian". So I pulled the partially chewed gelatinous mass out of my mouth and put it on his plate. Verdict: I don't like clams. It is not a sacrifice to keep them out of my mouth.

If You Happen to See the Most Beautiful House in the World . . .

Yeah. That is my house. Yep. The really awesome looking one.

The siding is going up. It kills me how beautiful it is going to be. What you see here is the boards, pre-batten. The battens are 3" and will be centered over each seam.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Night

Yes We Can!!

Screen grab of the map just after the election was called on CNN but before the night turned into a major mandate for President Elect Obama

The magic moment.

Our little watching party was marked with tears of joy, whoops of excitement and an overwhelming sense that we would be moving back to the United States of America that we feel we were born and raised in. There are many in this election who suggested that Barack Obama was unpatriotic and even anti-American because of his calls for Change. The idea being that America is a perfect nation created by God that is always guided by God and therefore beyond reproach. Here is a quote from
an article in the New York Times that does a better job of making my thoughts clear than I could.
. . .a sense that the imperial power capable of doing such good and such harm — a country that, they complain, preached justice but tortured its captives, launched a disastrous war in Iraq, turned its back on the environment and greedily dragged the world into economic chaos — saw the errors of its ways over the past eight years and shifted course.

They say the country that weakened democratic forces abroad through a tireless but often ineffective campaign for democracy — dismissing results it found unsavory, cutting deals with dictators it needed as allies in its other battles — was now shining a transformative beacon with its own democratic exercise.
(a note of context: the article was discussing the views of citizens of other countries but it applies to me as well.)

When I say I want Change and I believe when Barack Obama calls for change what we are aiming for is a return to the beauty of the country as an ideal, as an example to the world. As Bill Clinton put it at the DNC, "The world is more impressed with the power of our example than the example of our power". Ronald Reagan's reference to the Shining City on a Hill from the bible and from John Winthrop has been mentioned frequently in this election season. Far from being that shining beacon, I feel that we have turned into a bully with a club, earplugs and blinders. The election results of November 4th 2008 relit that beacon. It is burning again and I hope that the flame only gets brighter as we all work together to put the economy back on track, ensure that all our citizens can afford health care, search for energy solutions, end wars started by lies, support our allies when the cause is just, mend an ailing educational system, and a host of other issues that will require the leadership of President-Elect Obama and the participation and support of the people of America.

Count me in.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

1000(ish) Words Because I Have No Pictures

I have a 3 gallon glass carbouy sitting in the garage that is just over half full of fresh apple cider. The other day I went over to Tom and Kathy's house. Kathy and I filled a bunch of bushels full of apples from their trees. There is a fellow in Toledo called Kendall and he recently acquired an antique cider press and was looking to put it to good use. So we washed up all the apples and got the machine rolling. First all the apples went into the crusher. The crushed pieces fell through to the tray on the bottom of the machine where they were caught in what looked like a bottomless bucket. Once the bucket was full we pushed it forward along the tray so it was positioned underneath the press. Fitting a round wooden disk into the bottomless bucket we pressed all the juice out of the apple bits. I figure that we had about 5 gallons by the time we were done. The whole business smelled good, tasted good and was so freaking quaint that I felt I was a subject in a Norman Rockwell painting. But you will just have to trust me on that because I didn't have my camera on my person and missed photo-documenting the experience.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Grandpa Frank

My Grandpa Frank passed away in the wee hours of yesterday morning. Tom and Ben were at his side as he quietly slipped away.

I met Grandpa Frank and Grandma Nellie for the first time just over 2 years ago on our first trip to Washington. They of course knew of my existence and thought of me often but did not expect to ever meet me. Walking into their house and their arms for the first time was a very sweet homecoming. I am very grateful for the short time I was able to spend with Grandpa.

The legacy of his family speaks volumes as to the man he was. In his three sons you will find the admirable qualities of honor, integrity, community involvement, devotion to family, humor in spades, comfortable self confidence, the smarts to select amazing wives and the good sense to keep ahold of them, compassion and intelligence. A person can see the legacy continued in my brothers and cousins. Grandma and Grandpa raised their boys with the right balance of love, toughness and tenderness. Lessons learned by the children of Frank and Nellie flowed through them as they raised their own kids and has resulted in the next generation of Lahmanns following in well laid footsteps. Should you be lucky enough to meet any of my brothers or cousins you will find that they are all credits to the family, treasures as friends, and benefits to any community they live in.

Goodbye Grandpa. I am a better person for having had you in my life.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

For Jenny, Compliments of Drew

Jenny had a crappy and troublesome commenter on her blog so in an effort to send some friendly traffic her way and bring some silly into the equation, here is a video that Drew found and sent to me. It should be pretty obvious right away why he thought of me when he saw it. The election is just days away people. Here's hoping we all make it to the finish line with our hearts, souls and limbs intact. Love ya Jenny.

Monday, October 27, 2008

On the Mail Route - Autumn Edition

More reasons why I love my job:

That is Mt. Rainier in the background.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Windows are the (many, many) Eyeballs of a House

Bob and Tom

A dim shot: Matt's hat, Tom, Bob on ladder and Drew

My kitchen windows are going in!

Some ghoul hanging out of my kitchen window. I don't know who that rag-tag person is.


Got a few truck loads of goodies this week. First up: THE WINDOWS! Yay!!!

And Yesterday? The Siding! You cannot believe the beautiful aroma rolling out of the back of the truck. I don't know if I mentioned it but we are using western red cedar board and batt for siding. It smelled sooo wonderful.
On hand to unload the truck: Matt, Tom, Drew, Bob and the truck driver.

Look! Drew as hard laborer! I called him in to help get the truck unloaded. True friend indeed.

Gorgeous!!! It will not be painted or stained but left to weather into a greyish color.

Getting Messy

We needed a pad poured on which to put our heating unit. That gave Matt and Tom a chance to get dirty. I wanted to write our names in it once it was set up enough but it was still gooey by the time I left for dance class and it was too dark and cold by the time I got home to care. That is OK. The cats did the job for me. We have little paw prints criss-crossing the pad.

Dispatch from and Un-Real American Living in a Real American County Located in an Un-Real American State

5 cats on the bed and a garage full of mice. Le Sigh. Number 6, Quinten, is still missing. Sometimes I think he is gone for good and sometimes I still believe that he is reenacting Rambo: First Blood. Last night I dreamed he came home but his legs had turned into rabbit legs and he had the snout of a dachshund.

If you are not sure what the title of the post refers to, click here. You probably only want to click if you are an Un-Real American. I don't think Real Americans will find it funny.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Two Steps Closer: Roof & Tyvek

Jolaina's Homecoming

Saturday I went back to Jolaina's house to do her make-up for the Homecoming dance. She wanted to keep with the goth theme from the other day. We just toned it down a tiny bit.

Here we are. And this is the first posted picture of me as a brace face, metal mouth, silver grill, etc.

Brother, can you spare a dime?

If you can, please consider giving some love to the folks at No on 8. In a move that seethes with ignorance and intolerance, the Utah based Mormon Church is getting their hate on by fueling a massive campaign to inject discrimination into the California state constitution. Any little bit you can afford will help. You can also keep up on the proposition through Equality California.

I know that Michelle just touched on this, but I had to speak out on this as well. Bigotry and intolerance should not go unchallenged. Peace, Love and Equality for all!

The Final Leg - Mom, Don't Read This One

Here in my neck of the woods voting is not done at polls. It is strictly mail in. That bugs me because I like the ritual of waiting in line with my fellow citizens, entering the booth to mark my choices and, if I am honest, I miss getting my "I Voted" sticker to wear around all day. Yesterday on the mail route I delivered ballots to all the registered voters on my route. I felt a spark of pride as I carried my important deliveries, like I was serving a purpose in democracy. Today Matt and I filled out our ballots and I will mail them back when I go in to do the mail route on Monday. So from here on out, all the jibber jabber from federal, state and local candidates will land too late on our ears. We have voted. And for the first time in many, many years we have voted with hope and excitement for a new future. Long live democracy.

One final political note, I wish we were still in California to help with the No on Prop 8 campaign. We have donated money but that isn't the same as casting a vote (unless you are part of the Mormon force of unity). Good luck with that faux-compassion routine. I would rather have children raised in an all inclusive environment that might include an occasional encounter with a married gay couple than to have children raised in an environment of dual standards. Separate but "equal" did not work during the civil rights movement and it is equally despicable here. I know, I know, you view it as a choice so you don't think it it qualifies for comparison to the civil rights movement. To that I say that your opinion/faith/religious doctrine does not square with the real life experiences of any gay person I have met thus far in my life. An untruth repeated over and over again does not become truth.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Jolaina Goes Goth

Yesterday morning I headed over to Jolaina's house to do her make-up for school. This is Spirit Week at Toledo HS (culminating in Homecoming this weekend) and each day has it's own theme. This is Jolaina going goth. Girl is committed! I think she looks great.