Saturday, February 21, 2009


We just received some wedding photos from Sister Jennifer Clarke, another one of 'our girls' who served for a time in the Elizabethtown Ward.
It's aways good to hear from the missionaries - sisters and elders - who have labored in this part of the vineyard, then transferred out or returned home.
Like so many other missionaries that we were privileged to have in our home, Jenni is one of those special personalities that captivates everyone she meets. It was a delight to know her and work with both her and her companions. We miss Jenni and look forward to seeing her again. . .perhaps on our next trip to Utah and Idaho. We'll just add her to the list that includes Jacci, Michelle, Madel (Philippines), Andrea, Natalie, etc. We are, ahem. . still waiting for wedding photos from Madel. Are you reading this girl? Those of you in the E-town Ward may or may not recognize Jenni from these photos . . . wedding gowns and heels weren't considered appropriate
missionary attire, then or now.

Monday, February 16, 2009


It has oft times been reported - particularly in circles known to be travelled exclusively by men - that Valentine's Day is another one of those 'pseudo-holidays' invented by women (and greeting card companies) for the sole purpose of extracting as much affection, attention, gifts and prose as possible from their husbands, fiances, boyfriends and men-folk in general. The women in our lives seem to possess an uncanny ability to not only accomplish this feat while maintaining a coy, detached aloofness but they also manage to register a discernible and substantial amount of surprise when men actually come through with the requisite gifts and attention. Phrases such as, "For me?"; "Today is Valentine's Day?"; "Why, I'd forgotten all about it!"; "You didn't really need to get me anything."; "You remembered!"; "Honest, this is such a surprise!" and the ubiquitous, "Oh Honey, you really shouldn't have!" abound, resound and reverberate throughout the homes of America and in a dozen or more languages in various parts of the world.

It should also be noted that the fairer sex has an innate ability to do these things without betraying any of the qualities that endeared them to us in the beginning. They remain - if possible - even more beautiful, thoughtful, kind, loving and considerate during this highly ritualized dance of intrigue. They even have the uncanny talent of making us feel guilty when they issue forth with such commentary as, "I don't need anything for Valentine's Day."; "Really, you don't need to get me anything."; "A simple card would be wonderful for Valentine's Day." and the REAL deal maker, "I'm really not expecting anything, honey. I'm happy. Besides, it's enough just being married to you!" OUCH. Having made such poignant (and accurate) observations, I would be remiss if I failed to add another. What is it about DeBeers, Kay Jewelers, Zales, ProFlowers and all the other Valentine's Day promoting entities that make it sound like Valentine's Day is the only day of the year when it is appropriate to give your better-half jewelry or flowers? Or cards and sweet things? What about the other 364 days of the year? Is it not okay to send your wife a dozen roses just because it's Wednesday? What about an impromptu, romantic, candlelight dinner on a cardtable in the living room on a Thursday afternoon? Do we really need a holiday to express those feelings that should be expressed each waking day? Well, no. . . not actually. . . but it is nice to have one special day when we can cast off the vestiges of cavemen and treat the ladies in the manner with which they are so deserving of being treated.

After reading these comments, it's only natural for you to wonder what the passage of Valentine's Day left in its wake in the Hutchens' household. Right? Right? Smiles. It left smiles. Smiles, hugs and . . . well, you know - a sufficient amount of suck face. In large measure because Lynne was treated to a surprise delivery of three dozen red roses followed by dinner and a movie. Hey, I may be pragmatic at times, but I'm actually a sensitive guy at heart. . . and I'm certainly not an idiot.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Less than two weeks after a massive ice storm plunged 770,000 Kentucky utility customers into cold, inky darkness, fierce winds lashed the state with gusts approaching hurricane velocity. I kid you not. You can't make up this stuff. A line of thunderstorms came roaring through the area yesterday afternoon and into last night. Amid numerous tornado watches, possibly as many as six tornadoes were reported in four counties statewide. The rainfall alone was amazing. Almost three inches in one hour in some places.
This wind storm arrived when power had been almost completely restored to those who experienced outages in the ice storm. Now, over 120,000 customers statewide have lost power - many after just having it restored.
We didn't have any wind damage or power loss at home, but a couple of trees came down in the parking lot at work. No biggie.
From what we can tell, Elizabethtown and most of Hardin county was spared from any real wind damage. Most of the damage occurred in the Louisville areas of The Highlands and Cherokee Park, as well as Hart and Trimble counties. Straight line winds gusted to 68 mph in Jefferson county and the National Weather Service confirmed 73 mph gusts in Owensboro.
Can you believe this stuff? And I thought Idaho weather was bizarre. The day before the thunderstorms the temperature was 68. . the day of the thunderstorms it was 66. We now hear a forecast that calls for snow flurries on Sunday. Maybe we ARE in Idaho. Unpredictable? . .that would be understating. In fact, we anticipate the inevitable plague of locusts at any time now.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


The most important, anticipated and festive of the Chinese holidays continues to be celebrated across China until this Monday. . .
Chinese New Year is also widely recognized and known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival particularly among the Chinese people themselves. It is also the longest celebration of the year, lasting fifteen days. Historically, the Chinese calendar years are numbered from the reign of Huangdi, who was also known as the Yellow Emperor. He was a legendary sovereign and is considered to be the father of all Han Chinese. Chinese months, in turn, are determined by the Lunar calendar, with each month beginning on the darkest day. New Year's festivities start on the first day of the month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is at its brightest. It is not uncommon for the Chinese to take weeks of time off work to prepare and celebrate.
We are in the Chinese year 4707, which began on January 26, 2009.
Tradition holds that, in very ancient times, Buddha invited all of the animals to meet and celebrate with him on the day of Chinese New Year. Twelve animals came and Buddha named a year for each of them. Those animals were the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. During Chinese New Year, people wear red clothes, decorate their doorways and homes with poems written on red paper and give children "lucky money" in red paper envelopes.

RED symbolizes not only prosperity and good fortune, but also fire, which according to legend can drive away bad luck. The firecrackers and other fireworks that feature prominently in the festivities are rooted in a similar ancient belief. Long ago, people in China lit bamboo stalks, believing that the crackling and spitting flames had the ability to drive away evil spirits. In China, this is a time of family reunion. Family members gather at each other's homes to visit and share huge meals, the most significant of which is on New Year's Eve. The Lantern festival is held on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, the last day of Chinese New Year. This year the last day of the festival will be Monday, February 9th. Lanterns range from the simple to the extremely ornate and are hung in homes, temples and even carried in an evening parade under the light of the full moon. In many areas the highlight of the Lantern festival is the Dragon Dance. The Dragon - which might stretch a hundred feet or more in length - is typically made of silk, paper and bamboo. It symbolizes strength, protection, the embodiment of the yang (male) concept and success. In China it is taboo to desecrate the depiction of a Dragon, particularly since it also represents the embodiment of the Emperor. During the dance, the Dragon is held aloft by young men who guide and snake the beast throught the streets.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


The past week has lent an incredibly vivid and an altogether much too realistic meaning to the phrase, "We've just been chillin' out."

I'm sure that you have heard, seen, or read about the ice storm that has gripped Kentucky and several other states in its frigid, icy grasp these past several days. This incredible storm has been amazing and paralyzing in its scope and in its tenacity, particularly in western and central Kentucky. This storm arrived just five short months after Kentucky was ravaged by the winds of Hurricane Ike.

At the height of the power outage, over 700,000 customers (primarily residential) in Kentucky were without electricity. In Metro Louisville and Jefferson County alone, there were an estimated 11,500 wire-downs reported. Utility crews from Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, West Virginia and Florida have been dispatched to the Bluegrass state in an effort to get us back up and running again. In three west-central Kentucky counties alone, 600 power poles were snapped. Tens of thousands of trees across the state were flattened or shattered from the weight of the ice. Transformers were popping around town like roman candles (oddly enough resembling a lightning storm) and the nights have been eerily uneasy as we listen to tree limbs cracking and crashing to the ground. As the larger ones fall and shed their coatings of ice, they sound disturbingly like large crystal chandeliers cascading down onto polished marble floors. How's that for some descriptive imagery?

During the first two days, while much of Hardin County (Elizabethtown) was without power, we had power but no internet or television service at our house. We invited Lynne's sister Penny, Penny's husband Fernando, their son Daniel and his girlfriend Heather (couldn't get home) as well as Lynne's brother Chris to move in with us because they had no heat or power in Glendale. It was a rather cozy arrangement, to say the least.

A day and a half later, our power went off completely. Cold showers became the norm, and no. . . not for the reasons you may suspect. These were showers for purely hygienic reasons, people. Purely hygienic. Well, mostly hygienic. As a result of losing our power, our house guests returned to their own home - after first purchasing a portable generator. After having endured five days of frigidity and bleakness, our elctricity, DSL and TV were finally restored tonight (Tuesday) at about 11:00 o'clock. The pioneers were indeed hardy stock. . .we may have pegged our wimp-meter after barely a week.

Lynne spent a couple of nights in Louisville at Mike and Amber's - no loss of power - while I stayed here at night to, 'mind the store', so to speak. . . there had been several reports of burglaries and vandalism at the height of the outage.

Times like this point up the necessity of having our food storage, water and emergency supplies at the ready - which we did. On Sunday we had a very nice combined fast and testimony meeting with the Radcliff Ward. It was interesting to listen to the experiences all of the other people shared. What a week.

You can pause the following slide show to look at the individual pictures at your leisure.