Sunday, December 28, 2008


We hope each and every one of you had a wonderful Christmas. We got to speak with all of our children and many extended family members on Christmas Day and in the days that followed. Lynne even got to talk to Casey when he called from Iraq on Christmas Day. That was and is our favorite part of Christmas - visiting and talking to our families. We spent the better part of Christmas in Louisville with Mike, Amber and Madi. The missionaries were also there and we passed around the cell phones so each of them could call home.
This was Madi's first Christmas and she seemed somewhat less than impressed with all the whoop-tee-doo. She was, of course and as always, fascinated and enthralled with her Grampa Hutch! We will post a video clip and some pictures later. By the way, for all of you doubters out there. . . . yes, we kept our promise and bought NOTHING for each other. HA! China awaits.

It was interesting to listen to the missionaries relate some of the Christmas traditions they enjoy with their families. That got the rest of us talking about some of our own traditions during the holidays. Mine are fairly short and simple and have always included watching, 'It's a Wonderful Life', (my all-time favorite movie). I was able to watch it this year, but I didn't get to particpate in another Christmas tradition that I got hooked on a few years ago. .. . .going to the movies to watch a Christmas Day opening of a new movie. Bummer.

Talking about Christmas traditions eventually led to a discussion of New Year's resolutions and that progressed into what we would like to do in the coming year.
That led to a conversation of what each of us would like to do before we . .. . you know. .
. ."kick the bucket".

You may have seen the movie, "The Bucket List', starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson as two old men drawing nigh unto death's door. In the time they have remaining, they compose a 'Bucket List' of things they would like to do before they ultimately kick the bucket.

We decided to give you our Bucket Lists and ask you to share yours (if you have one) with the rest of us. Serious, tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted, half-hearted, attainable or near impossible. . . . . it doesn't matter. Click on the comments and give us a list of the things you would like to do or see before your ticket gets punched. YOU CAN LEAVE YOUR LIST ANONYMOUSLY IF YOU PREFER. JUST CLICK ON ANONYMOUS WHEN YOU ADD YOUR COMMENT.

Here are some of our bucket list items. Some we have accomplished, some we haven't.

Hawaiian Vacation
Sing at the Grand Ole Opry
Swim in the Pacific
Write a hit song
Learn to play Piano & Guitar
Own a 65 or 66 Mustang
Travel outside the USA
Live in the West

Walk on the Great Wall
Visit the Pyramids
Write and publish a novel
Sit on Mayan ruins, read BOM
Alaskan cruise
Peacock bass fishing
Visit Forbidden City
Singing lessons

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Since our gift to ourselves for Christmas this year was another trip to China in March, we felt it appropriate to include a little slideshow of a few Chinese Christmas scenes. Although it will not be Christmas while we are there, and the celebration of Chinese New Year will have wound down, we fully expect to see and participate in some festivities. In China, there is ALWAYS a festival going on somewhere, regardless of the time of year. Also included are some of my other pictures from Beijing. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The snow has finally arrived in the Commonwealth! Less than a week ago we were lamenting the fact that it didn't really feel like Christmas because we hadn't had any snow. That was on Sunday. One day later, on Monday evening, the onslaught of freezing rain, ice and snow began. When I went out to start my car at 3:30 Tuesday morning I was greeted by a three inch blanket of snow. Under the snow was a veneer of ice that had covered everything. The door of my car was frozen shut. After brushing off the snow and chipping away the ice, I finally got in, started the car and turned on the defrosters and the meager heaters. This was going to be a long wait.

I went back into the house to find Lynne awake, bright-eyed, smiling, twirling her key-ring on her finger and offering me the use of her Dodge Nitro for the day. As I reflected not only upon the potentially treacherous road conditions I was about to encounter, but also upon the horde of winter-weather-driving neophytes I would undoubtedly be surrounded by. . . Lynne's offer of the four-wheel drive Nitro was an enticing proposal indeed.

It proved to be a prudent choice. Not only does the Nitro have a remote-start feature, it also has better blowers, defrosters and heaters than my meager mode of
vehicular transport. I knew she was gloating. . .somewhat. . . but she was also genuinely concerned for my ability to get to work and back home in one piece. Much of her concern was based upon and stemmed from the knowlege that most drivers in Kentucky are totally, completely and wholly unaccustomed to driving in the snow.

This state just freaks when it snows! They treat freezing rain and an inch or two of snow with a cataclysmically jaundiced eye. . much th
e same reaction as one would expect to see if Earth was besieged by invaders from another planet or Kentucky was suddenly set upon by a grammatically correct school system. In other words, they struggle to cope. There just isn't that much snow out here. As a result, when they get ANY snow it's like pouring gas onto an anthill (uhm. .yeah. .uh. . not that I've ever done that, mind you).

Schools shut down. Businesses shut down. Commerce grinds to a halt. A few years ago, when I was living in Radcliff, Kentucky, they even closed the POST OFFICE because of freezing rain. (How's t
hat motto go again. . ."neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of ..."?) Yeah, well. Listen people, I'm from Idaho. I am unfazed by waking up in the morning and not being able to find my car because it has snowed 30 inches overnight and then drifted. In my four years at Bonneville High School we missed school four times total because of winter weather. FOUR. Twice for frozen/busted pipes at the school and twice when the coal furnace went out. NEVER for snow. We used to sluff school to go skiing at Kelly Canyon for cripes sake! ( apologies to my mom and dad, for introducing them to the wanton world of adolescent misadventures starring their eldest child...and to President Wirkus for skipping Seminary) Ahhh yes. . life in the academic fast lane. Those were the days.

The bottom line
is this- people in Kentucky see very little snow compared to what those of us from out West or up North experience. And we who have been raised with snow and winter weather know how to DRIVE in it. In the snow, Kentucky roadways morph into a cross between NASCAR on steroids and the 'Little Old Lady from Pasadena' on Prozac.
In all fairness, there is probably more snow removing equipment and provisions (snowplows, sanding trucks, salt, magnesium chloride, brine solution, etc.) in the city of Idaho Falls and Bonneville county than in all of central Kentucky. Perhaps not, but pretty close.

The interstate had been plowed and sanded by the time I made it out of the carnage of a car-strewn neighborhood and suburban avenues littered with the immobile carcasses of vehicles slid into la
wns and garbage cans. Snow was still falling when I made it to work at 4:30. Our parking lot had also been plowed and sanded. I was grateful to have the security of the four-wheel drive if for no other reason than the ability to successfully evade the wide-eyed, white-knuckled Evel Knievel wannabes who were surging down the interstate at a blistering twelve miles per hour. Give me strength.

Needless to say, Hardin County schools were closed all day Tuesday. And even though no more snow fell, the roads were clear (but wet) and the temperature had risen into the mid-forties. . . they kept the schools close
d the following day. Come on people!

In the final analysis, we all came through relatively unscathed. I'm not sure Lynne will be as enthused to let me borrow the Dodge in the future. . . too much road-salt and grime had accumulated on it to suit her. . . .rookies!
By the way. . .it is now about one o'clock on Friday afternoon (two days later). The skies are sunny, the last vestiges of snow were swept away by a warm rain yesterday and the temperature in Elizabethtown is 64 degrees with a warm southwesterly breeze. The snowcrazies have returned to their homes, their offices, schools, other safe havens - and yes even the roads - with smiles on their faces and harrowing tales of their exploits in the 'blizzard of '08' cascading excitedly -almost reverently - from their lips.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Each Holiday Season the merchants, churches, schools and various organizations in Elizabethtown and Hardin County erect Christmas displays in the park around Freeman Lake. This has been an on-going traditional celebration for the past 18 years.

Some of the lighted displays extend into the lake, while others are actually set-up on little barges on the lake itself. It seems there are more and more displays each year. They run the gamut from religious to secular, traditional to commercial and even a few that don't really fall into a specific category. Tonight we took a little drive down to the lake and snapped a few pictures. Although there isn't any snow and the temperatures have ranged from the 40's to the 60's, it felt a bit more like Christmas when we drove around the lake and looked at these displays. A touch of snow, however, sure would go a long way toward boosting that feeling of Christmas. Although these photos don't really do justice to the displays, we hope they impart to some degree and in some small measure, a feeling of the Elizabethtown holiday cheer to you from us.


Maria Craig, the ward Primary President, called last week to ask if I could come into Primary today and take a few minutes to talk about China. The Primary children have been doing the "Book of Mormon Around the World" program and today they visited and learned about the members of the church in China. Lynne and I went into the Primary room for the last 15 minutes of class today and displayed some of the items like chopsticks, fans, cork-carvings, pictures, etc., that I brought back from China. We had a blast.
The kids were amazed that Chinese books of scripture (all books really) are read from the back to the front and from the top to the bottom. We taught them how to say, "Good Morning" in Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin) and a few other simple phrases. I love those little dudes (and dudettes). I think my assistant (Lynne) had the most fun. She paraded the items around the classroom while I was teaching the kids and teachers how to speak Chinese. Later tonight, our home teacher said that his five year old son Jonah was going on about how the Hutchens were talking in 'funny Chinese' in Primary today.
Always good to know that you've made a lasting impression.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


After several hit and miss attempts (and some good intentions that fell short) we finally made it to Frankfort to visit with Aunt Shirley and the rest of the gang this past weekend. We had a great time and took in several activities while we were there, not the least of which was Pamela's Christmas play Saturday night. Pamela is the daughter of Charlie and Alice (Lynne's cousin). She's a freshman at Frankfort High (home of the Panthers) this year and she's a little cutie.

Pamela had made it clear that we were not to arrive in Frankfort without my homemade Holiday clam dip. A recipe, incidentally, that I borrowed from a very good friend and (with slight revisions) made into my own. We arrived with plenty of the clam dip in tow, and after a great pot-roast dinner (my all-time favorite meal) at Aunt Shirley's we set out for the play.

Following the play we headed downtown for the annual Christmas Light Parade around the corner from 'Magees', the downtown bakery that Alice and Charlie own. After the parade it was into the bakery to warm up with some of Charlie's homemade clam chowder, not to mention some chips and Uncle Greg's clam dip. We also kicked back with a little college football action on the TV in the back of the bakery.

We then took in the Open House at the Governor's Mansion where we had an opportunity to visit with the Governor and his wife. We followed-up that little adventure with the Capitol Candle-Light Tour. It was pretty cool. There is a huge statue of Abraham Linclon (he was born just a few miles from here in Hodgenville, KY you know) in the Capitol Rotunda. Legend holds that by rubbing the toe of Honest Abe's boot you are granted good luck. The toe of the boot on the statue has actually been polished to a high shine after the many years of constant rubbing. And, oh yes, of course we rubbed it. . .you don't diss Abe, especially in these parts!

The Capitol building is magnificent. Marble and granite columns, staircases, sconces, adornments and accoutrements are everywhere. It's really a grand building. Lynne even acted as an impromptu tour-guide and showed us where her former office is located (across the hall from Kentucky's First Lady).

Sunday afternoon and evening we attended the Madrigal Dinner and Choir presentation at the Frankfort Methodist Church. Lynne's cousin, Junior, is in the choir and he and the choir once again gave a masterful performance. It was a special way to end the weekend before coming back home to Elizabethtown. Thanks to our 'Frankfort kin' for some good times and lasting memories. We love you guys.