Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Breaking Trail the Whole Way

Her name is Timpanogos.

Official documentation of our whereabouts.

I've been fond lately of photographing shadows. The sun was so warm that we didn't wear jackets (until we got back in the shade), gloves, or hats. We were sweating to death! This is my first time on this trail not seeing someone else's tracks. We had the whole place to ourselves the whole time!

K always hikes behind me so that I can set my own comfortable pace. After breaking trail in fresh powder for awhile, I made him go ahead. I love how he's always looking up and looking around, drinking it all in.

When you hike the Pine Hollow Trail, it's a while before you actually get back into the pines. K is so happy here. He kept commenting on how quiet and peaceful it was. Snow really makes his heart sing!

The trail ahead. We had headlamps, but dinner was waiting in the crockpot at home. Perhaps another day. Perhaps next snow season.

Pretty rocks in stream--after we crossed this creek, K sat down to enjoy the scenery. Wish you could hear this water.

Here's the last shot of the evening as we descended the trail to our vehicle. Not as sunny as when we started up!

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Japan

Mukashi, mukashi ni (Once upon a time or Long, long ago), I lived in Japan. I was a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I loved every second of it. Even the really difficult seconds. I had no trouble enjoying the culture, the food, and the people. The people are amazing. I had Japanese companions who taught me a lot. I was immersed in a completely different society and saw how successful something so different could be. Near the end of my mission, my mission president telephoned to ask me to extend my mission by one month. In a heartbeat I said, "Okay!" He stammered, "Don't you want to think about it, consider your plans upon returning home, ask your parents or bishop about it, or possibly pray about it???" I said, "Nope." Nihon o aishiteimasu (I love Japan)!

So now they have trouble. Big trouble. The 9.0 EARTHQUAKE caused a phenomenal TSUNAMI and RADIATION LEAKS from the nuclear reactors. Big, BIG trouble. I did not live in the area where these disasters are taking place, but Japan is about the size of California (third largest state) or Montana (fourth largest state) and because it is an island nation situated on the edge of the Pacific Plate, it is volcanic and mountainous (and earthquake and tsunami-prone) and therefore, only eighteen percent of the actual land is habitable. Eighteen percent!

Yet, all these people live there, together, in harmony. Japanese manners are shaped by geography. If you were stuck on an island with that many people, you would figure out a pretty good system as well. Here in America we've got wide open spaces and plenty of room to sprawl. Our culture reflects that spaciousness with applause for individualistic style. I am so impressed with the incredulous tones with which reporters are covering the story. They've covered earthquakes before. NOBODY IS LOOTING! Japanese people are just quietly, patiently standing in lines for hours on end, waiting for food and other necessities. They are helping themselves and each other. It is the Japanese way. One NPR (National Public Radio, for those unenlightened) story spotlighted a gentleman teacher. His English was very good. The reported began, "What is your name?" The man stated his name (I don't recall) and added, "Thank you for coming." At the end of the interview, the man said again, "Thank you for coming." It is the Japanese way.

This teacher explained in English, "This is my town and I am a teacher. Many student are missing and so I am sad." Totally made me cry. I would be SO SAD if my students were missing too! He was calm. He spoke evenly. The reporters kept using the word DIGNIFIED. Yes, that is the Japanese way.

I heard another story about a girl who couldn't contact her parents. So she walked to the bank, withdrew as much money as they would allow, and got on a train for home. Where the trains stopped running, she hired taxis. The taxi drivers used back alleys and various routes to get her as close as possible. She spent $800 getting as far as she could and then she walked the rest of the way. A camera/news crew tagged along and caught it all when she returned home. Her mother was shocked to see her and sort of cried out in surprise. Did the girl take a flying leap into her mother's arms? No...that's not the Japanese way. She bowed to her parents. It is the utmost sign of respect. And then her parents bowed to her. Maybe that sounds strange to some people, but the emotion of the moment was overwhelming for me because I UNDERSTOOD. When you live somewhere with people and eat food with them and speak in their language and adopt their customs, you become part of them and they become part of you. I love my Japan.

K and I have been praying for Japan. We've donated to the Humanitarian Fund administered by the LDS Church. We've also donated to the American Red Cross. We don't really know how else to help. We will all take turns at enduring natural disasters and other hardships. The world seems to be pretty much on board with assisting. I hope so. I hope My Japan is really Our Japan. Nihon wa watakushi no dai suki desu (Japan is my fave or "big like", another way of saying I Love Japan)!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Plans for Tonight

After school today, I walked through the library to get to the workroom to check my box. In the library was a fifth grade girl from another class. I wasn't sure why she was there, but I asked, "Did you already finish your homework for the weekend?" She answered that she was planning a Sleepover. And that's when another fifth grade girl showed up. Because there was a piece of paper on the table and because I am snoopy enough, I asked what all they had planned for their Sleepover. They showed me the list. I asked to photocopy it. They obliged:


1. Get D. figured out.
2. Drive to my dad's house.
3. Set up everything that we are going to do.
4. Barbies.
5. Crafts/school.
6. Write what we think about each other. BE HONEST.
7. Boys Boys and uh more Boys.
8. Dance.
9. Video games.
10. Competition--who can stay up the latest?!
11. SODA.
12. How to be preppy/Girly girl.
13. Bed--Well Maybe.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Playing at the Tide Pools

This lovely setting can be found within Cabrillo National Monument, a place we have visited previously. It was fun to explore the area, climb around on the cliffs, and listen to the waves break. Such beauty. So medicinal!

This is what the cliff wall looks like up close at the tide pools. We didn't see many creatures, but for sure, the hermit crabs were there! On our honeymoon, we visited these same exact tide pools, and K, rather new to tide pools, called over to me, "All I see is a bunch of shells swimming around." I said, "Sweetie, those are hermit crabs." K answered, "No they're not!" This time, he called over to me, "I see a bunch of hermit crabs!" Happy, smiley memories.

As I close this last post about our recent trip to San Diego, I just want to comment about all of these life forms stuck to the cliff wall. They are waiting, enduring even, until the tide comes back to save them. K and I had such a lovely time together during this mid-winter break. We slept well, we exercised, we had whole days together, we amused ourselves, and we shared food fifteen meals in a row. Now we're clinging to thoughts of our next opportunity to run away together.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Silver Strand

I guess this explains why they call it Silver Strand Beach. We walked here on our honeymoon, so it was good to get back. We still have the sand dollar from back then sitting on the shelf. We did search for more sand dollars and picked up a number of shells, but in the end, we decided we didn't want another sand dollar to "upstage" the Original Honeymoon Sand Dollar.

This boy is a boy through and through. Can't help himself. Loves to pick up stuff and throw it into the water. On our first date, we were walking through the Forest of Camelot (no lie, that's what it's really called, the sign says so) and he picked up a stick and just threw it into the woods. It made me smile then and it makes me smile now, each time he does it.

A native Californian could probably rattle off the name of this bulbous sea plant with no difficulty, like me saying "calcite" in the cave. No idea, but picture-worthy to me.

There's something highly romantic about holding hands and absorbing a California sunset together. Sigh...

Looking off toward Cabrillo National Monument with the Point Loma Lighthouse.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I think the above picture is an African Spoonbilled Something or Other...It was raining Saturday morning--the locals were whining BIG TIME about the weather, but we ventured out to San Diego Zoo's Safari Park (new name for the old Wild Animal Park) with our rain ponchos. We drove through beautiful orange groves and mountains. A cool, quiet day turned out to be perfect for viewing some of God's most interesting handiwork. We sat down for a couple of animal shows and met some hilarious and regal birds (owl, parrot, peregrine falcon) and one jumpy kangaroo named Ruby. Ruby did NOT like the approaching ducks, but she DID like everything her trainer was willing to feed her.

Ever wondered why the flamingo often stands on one foot? If they lift both feet at the same time, they fall over.

No idea, but it's pretty. Safari Park could almost double as a botanical center.

There are only seven left of this type of rhino in the WORLD! Her DNA has been frozen, however, this species will likely become extinct within our lifetimes. Sad.

And they say that humans are super genetically close to the apes...

Always a good idea to keep your bayonet handy. One never knows.

After Safari Park, we contacted Sterling and Co. and met up for dinner in Old Town San Diego at a quirky little place with "suspicious" five dollar dinners that turned out to be so good (Mahi Mahi). The place is a small Irish Pub called O'Hungry's. They had a guy playing the guitar and a girl singing. Sterling's kids happened to have an ukulele (the family's third ukulele since August, I was informed) and a harmonica with them. The harmonica sounded really great, actually, with the band (even the guy in the band said so). Next thing you know, Sterling was asking the band if his sister could sing with them. While that was happening, Sterling's daughter ended up shaking the maracas for added flavor and that sounded great too! Then of course, Sterling got up to sing a song and that's how the night went on. I called it "The Family Bar." The next day, the LDS senior missionaries at Mormon Battalion Historic Site mentioned that they love O'Hungry's and that they go there all the time for breakfast.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

In Which Bill Hirsch Got Married

The wedding was held in the San Diego Temple--so beautiful! K and I honeymooned in San Diego and also visited this temple at that time. I'm so thankful for our own temple marriage and for the covenants that we have made. I couldn't have been happier for Bill and his bride.

K is practicing his bubble blowing technique. They passed these bubbles out to everyone for when the newlyweds emerged from the temple. The wind did not cooperate.

It's a good thing these two had a great photographer because I couldn't seem to snap any decent pictures to save my life. Things kept moving and this was all I could manage. Here they are, Bill and Jill! I think the backs of their heads are especially lovely!

This is one of Bill's brothers, Sterling, and Sterling's wife, Julie. Sterling was the witness representing "my side of the family" when we got married. We failed to photograph their two daughters and two sons, all talented, gorgeous, and busy children.

Between the wedding and the reception we visited La Jolla Beach. It's always a treat to visit the ocean! We were a little too dressed up to play, but had an enjoyable time anyway.

This is J who had a fabulous time with her Honey during the whole trip to San Diego. So glad we could use Bill's wedding as an excuse to leave town!