Saturday, March 28, 2009


In little more than 46 days we will be wheels up to China! As the days, hours and minutes continue their steady countdown - the excitement, anticipation and eagerness for what lies ahead have begun to intensify. Although she is very excited for this trip, Lynne still harbors images of being swept up by the Chinese police and being locked away for jay-walking in downtown Beijing. This, I am certain, is a direct result of her having watched several episodes of 'Locked Up Abroad' on the Travel Channel and Discovery. She says that she's also afraid of saying the wrong thing in Chinese (I've taught her several simple expressions) to the wrong person at the wrong time and ending up stuffed in a rice bag at the back of a dark warehouse. An over-active imagination? Perhaps. Nevertheless, she said she's keeping, "aholta" my arm (yes, that's a word in Kentucky - aholta) wherever we go.
Belinda Bu has arranged our transportation from Beijing to Chengde and then back to the airport once we are ready to leave for our return to the States. She has also graciously offered us the use of one of her apartments for our stay. It is located across the street from the University where I taught and is centrally located to all the places we will be visiting. While Chengde is not a particularly large city by metropolitan Chinese standards (its population is approximately 350,000) it is home to several universities, trade schools and is a bustling hive of commerce, trade and tourism. Of particluar significance and tourist interest is the Mountain Resort which was built as a vacation home for the emperor while on hiatus from Beijing. It is the world's largest Imperial Garden. Construction of the resort began in 1703 and was completed 89 years later in 1792. The Mountain Resort is exquisite in its detail and is listed as a World Heritage Site. It is a beautiful and tranquil location and I visited it as often as my teaching schedule would allow.
One of my good friends (hi Pam!) said she is eager to see all of the photos that we are going to be posting while we are there. . . and with that in mind, I thought I would put together the following slideshow with pictures from my last visit as an impromptu preview of sorts. These photos were taken in May and June, so they pretty much approximate what conditions will be like while we are there. This should give you an idea of what Chengde, the Mountain Resort in Chengde and surrounding areas look like. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


It's really amazing how suddenly Spring can 'spring upon you' here in Kentucky. Just a few short weeks ago, there were piles of shattered and shorn tree limbs stacked next to the streets, awaiting the dump trucks and flatbeds that would haul them to the landfills. The final vestiges of the freezing ice-storm have been reduced to occasional views of broken branches and trunks that remain high up, in the trees themselves. Last week there were no blossoms, very few bulb shoots tentatively breaking through the soil and even fewer patches of greening grass in the neighborhoods.
What a difference three days can make! Now the white and pink dogwoods are blossoming everywhere, the redbuds are out and the grass is greening all over the place. Cool. Better yet, I've already been fishing twice. Now, there's a sure sign of spring for you. . .frequent visits to Cabela's, Bass Pro Shop and the Walmart fishing aisle. It's often been stated that the first sign of Spring is a red-breasted robin earnestly seeking its first worm of the season in the soft, damp soil. "Oh contraire, mon ami!" If you ask Lynne, she will tell you that around these parts, the first SURE sign of spring is Greg relishing his first cast and earnestly seeking his first fish of the season. . . the worms I can buy year-round.
In any event, here are some dogwood and redbud photos to give you an idea of what we are now seeing and what we anticipate seeing soon in Kentucky:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


WOW!!!! OH WOW!!!! OH WOW!!! Do I have something to tell y'all. My husband could give Prince Charming lessons let me tell you. Oh, by the way, this is Lynne. Greg generally updates the blog because he has such a great way with words...big words...but let me tell y'all what else he's REALLY great at.....IT'S ROMANCE. Yesterday was our 4th Anniversary, and Greg really wanted to do something special, but his work schedule wouldn't allow it - however he did give me the most beautiful, personal, heart melting card with his special sentiment attached. BUT THEN..... Today was his day off, and we enjoyed it together - all while I bugged him to death about what he had planned for our Anniversary (celebrated a day late - that's OK).
I asked a ton of questions all day long: "where to?", "when?", "what do I wear?" and he patiently, but comically put me off.....THEN...finally, he told me it was time to get ready and to dress semi-formal. I got ready and then it was off for the VERY SPECIAL DATE. Mr. Manners opened the doors for me (but he always does that) and then after we drove a few feet, he pulled a blindfold out of his pocket.
He actually blindfolded me and told me to sit back for the ride. I really thought I knew one of two places he may take me - but BOY was I wrong. He decided to throw me, so he drove me all over town then left me in the blindfold as he walked me into the restaurant - but not before walking me through obstacles in a mini-garden just outside the restaurant. Boy was I baffled. Then he carefully guided me into the restaurant. It smelled sooooooo good. People were looking and whispering amongst themselves about me holding to Greg's arm and the blindfold I was wearing. Greg signaled for them to be quiet. . with his finger to his lips. .so he told me - because I literally couldn't see a thing.
Then I heard very romantic country music (which was a clue how much he loves me because he's really not a fan of country music all that much). Little did I know he had taken me into a private reserved room with a view. The hostess closed the door to keep out the outside noise and all the other patrons. He said I could remove the blindfold. We were all alone. He had reserved the ENTIRE DINING ROOM just for us!! It had great ambiance and like I said, smelled just wonderful. He ordered some luscious appetizers and we had a very delicious meal with such large portions that we had to bring some home with us. The restaurant's name is BACK HOME and it is housed in a two story 19th century, brick house here in Elizabethtown. . . of all places. It was built in 1872.
On the ride to the restaurant, there was such romantic music on the car stereo, and then once again on the ride home. There were sweet kisses, hand holding, sincere compliments, manners, and big smiles. I felt like a celebrity or better yet, HIS SWEETHEART. On the way out, he walked me through the pretty little garden and a sweet ride home followed. Once home, I told him I wanted us to just rest and relax the rest of the evening by kicking back and watching some NIT basketball. What a perfect evening. What a sweetheart. Better yet....WHAT A GUY!!! I adore you Greg and love you too. What a memory to add to all the other special ones you give me each day - but 'OH, WHAT A DAY AND A NIGHT' it has been. I told y' all - He's a real Prince.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I included in a recent posting a photo and an article from my high school newspaper that a fellow alumnus (Lyle Nelson) had posted to my FaceBook page. The nostalgic sojurn into the past that those two items provided was. . interesting. .and somewhat revealing to say the least. It was interesting to see and read something that had transpired in my life nearly forty years ago. It was revealing in the sense that it had been a long time since I had seen pictures - other than my graduation picture - from my high school days. Bear with me a moment and I shall endeavor to explain.
Shortly after my return home from serving my LDS mission in Hong Kong, China - and while I was attending school at Ricks College - my home in Idaho Falls caught fire. Although no one was injured, lost in that fire were all of my junior high and high school yearbooks - not to mention a TON of albums, 8-track tapes and cassesttes. Additionally, many items that I brought home from China were destroyed. . not all, but several. Although structural damage was minimal, the fire practically guttted the basement of the house. What the fire and smoke damage didn't destroy, the water finished off. Bottom line is this. . .I have never been able to replace my yearbooks and therefore, many of the pictures, classmate autographs and comments, etc., are long gone. And now, some 33 years after the fire, Lyle Nelson posts some of those pictures to my FaceBook page. I have no idea why he kept these things. No doubt they represent only a fraction of the items he has saved and categorized from the halcyon days spent at Bonneville High. I am simply grateful for the fact that he not only saved them, but scanned and sent them to me at this late date.
He has added three more items; two photographs and an article from my Junior year at that prestigious bastion of adolescent academia. I am including those items in this post. In addition to illuminating the fact that I was - at one time -in possession of a decent amount of hair and a slimmer. more svelte build . . . these photos have inspired me to undertake another project. In the not too distant future, I will be posting photos of all of our children, photos of Lynne and photos of myself. These photos will be before and after images for each of us, utilizing our graduation photos and photos of us now. . .side by side. . . . hmmmm. Should be pretty revealing, eh?

Monday, March 16, 2009


Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, a time when much of the western world pauses to remember the Patron Saint of Ireland, whose purported feats and accomplishments have become the stuff of legend. It has widely been accepted that - among many other things - St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. Ah, a lovely and indeed saintly feat that would have been, were it not for the wee little fact that Ireland, "dinna hoof no sneks to begin wit', laddie!"
It's also a day when we feel obligated to sport 'a wee bit o' the green', in our adornment so as not to invoke the 'tweakin' oof ar bodeily pahrts by complete strangers'. You remember of course, this rich tradition from grade school. . and no, green eyes - even if they be smilin' and Irish - dinna count.
There are assorted and sundry traditions to celebrate Celtic lore around the land that run the gamut from drinking green beer, to kissing the Blarney stone and eating corned beef and cabbage.
Let me briefly share a fun tradition that started when Tyler, Casey and Cheniel were just 'wee little shavers'. For a couple of weeks leading up to St. Patrick's Day we told the kids to keep an eye out for the leprechauns. These leprechauns were crafty and sneaky little guys who did their best to stay hidden during most of the day. Sometimes you could see them if you peered closely into and around the bushes and shrubs next to the house, but more often than not, all you would find would be their footprints and an occassional piece of green fabric that had torn off of their clothing. Of course, these scraps of clothing and the footprints were covertly and strategically placed by we, the parents. Yeah, we actually got our kids to believe in and look for real leprechauns and 'leprechaun sign'. So, sue me. We even took it a step further and told the kids that if they believed in leprechauns, the leprechauns would come visit them the night before St. Patrick's Day. If they had been good kids and fully believed in the leprechauns, there would be an abundance of candies and gifts strewn about the house. If they didn't really believe in the leprechauns - no goodies and they could expect some tricks to be played upon them by the little men in green.
Sure enough, on St. Patrick's Day when the kids arose they found Hershey's Kisses, Skittles (all the colors of a leprechaun rainbow, ya know?), sweet tarts, tootsie rolls, tootsie pop suckers and all manner of sweet confections strewn across the floors, in their beds, inside their pillow cases and in their shoes. It was great! Of course, the leprechauns managed to play a few tricks each year, no matter how good the kids had been. . .bananas in the microwave, chairs upside down on the kitchen floor, cereal in the refrigerator, shoes in the dryer, clothes turned inside-out on the hangers, school books in the dishwasher and pants hanging from the ceiling fan. Sometimes when they woke up they found themselves upside down in the beds or lying on a sleeping bag on the floor. That had to seriously mess with their heads!
I still remember Tyler coming home from school and telling us that the leprechauns didn't visit any of his friends or bring them treats. We explained to him - with deadpan, straight faces mind you - that his friends didn't get any treats because they probably didn't believe in leprechauns. I still cringe just a little bit when I think of Ty, Casey and Cheniel telling their school friends to watch for and believe in leprechauns in the days leading up to St. Patrick's Day. Their friends must have thought they were nuts. . .especially when they told them that the 'Leprechauns' had come and left goodies and played tricks on them. Cheniel, especially, got into it. So much so that she swears she saw the little dudes peeking in the windows and running down the stairway. It was a great time. A time that I often chuckle about to this day. Good times, great memories, gullible children.
Tomorrow there will be no Skittles scattered on the carpet in our home, no bananas in the microwave. There won't even be any Hershey's Kisses around the house. . .just real ones . . .as Lynne and I celebrate our anniversary. I kinda hope she forgets to wear something green. Heh, heh, heh.

Monday, March 9, 2009


It doesn't seem that long ago that I was chastising (albeit mildly and tongue-in-cheek) my adorable daughter-in-law Kim, about the lengthy absence of postings on her family blog. It seems that she had been bitten by that infamous and most vile of internet viruses. . . .FaceBook! Having succumbed to the enticings of this heinous malady, she acknowledged and admitted her complicity in failing to post information and/or photographs for an extended period of time. Kim indicated that after having fallen prey to this devious extension of Lord Vader's Evil Empire, her time had been monopolized in its grasp and she had completely neglected her blogging responsibilities. . .much to my chagrin. I informed her of the fact that I was blissfully ignorant of and above such foilables as FaceBook - or as she so casually but intimately referred to it - "FB". I cautiously reminded her that the masses were waiting to read about the exploits of 'the fam' and couldn't be expected to wait while she amused herself with this FaceBook thing. We shouldn't be expected to be kept waiting and be placated by simply, 'biding our time', until she got around to it.
OK. . .cut to the chase. Kim said I should get on FaceBook. I did. She said it would mess with my mind when it came to blogging. It did. She said my blogging would suffer. It has. She said I would see what she meant. I do. She said. ."yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda. ."
She was right. . . and in an effort to recompense my 'sin of omission', I'm writing this post. I have also had a very good friend ask why I haven't been writing and then raise a question about my health (would that be physical or mental?). From now on, I will make a concerted effort to exercise due diligence when it comes to this blog. But. . . .it's still all Kim's fault. The blame rests with her, the little sorceress.
As a sidenote, I have added a link to my FaceBook page on this blog should you feel so inclined. Lynne has a page as well. I have also added a link to my graduating class's (Bonneville High School Class of '73) FB page. If you have a burning desire to see a non-airbrushed, genuine, un-retouched, full-haired photo of me as a senior in high school, click away.
Also - when I was a sophomore (1971), President Richard Nixon visited Idaho Falls. I was a budding journalist on the 'Bonneville Buzz', the school newspaper. I had an opportunity to interview Dan Rather who at that time was a member of the White House Press Corps. A fellow BHS alum, Lyle Nelson, saved the article from that issue of the paper. He also saved a photograph he took on that day. Lyle posted them on my FaceBook page. I hadn't seen them in more than 37 years. Here they are for your reading amusement (bemusement?):