Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Home For Christmas

No planes. No trains (except the toy train set for Keegan and Alden). No automobiles (Alden's matchboxes excluded). Yet we had family all around this Christmas, and what a fun thing that was. We had such a good time together that everybody actually agreed to pose for a photo (you have no idea of the magnitude of such an agreement where Baileys are concerned -- clearly everyone was in a festive mood).

For those who don't know my side of the family, here is the photo. From left to right: (back row) Me, Keegan, Kathleen, Dad, Alden, Mom, Kate, my niece Taylor, and Hani, who will be marrying my brother Ryan very shortly; (front row) brother Matson; his wife Jennifer; my nephew Jordan (both he and Taylor belong to Ryan); Ryan; Steve Marx and my sister Shalise, with their two boys, Liam and Sam. Oh, and Marley, the chocolate lab who belongs to my sister, except when he spills hot chocolate all over my dad, like he did today--then he belongs only to Steve.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Now Just Wait A Minute . . .

Alden would like to voice his strong opposition to my proposal for having little girls rule the world (see last blog entry). Turns out it can be pretty darn hard on us guys. My little man sure is beautiful though.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Little Girl's Christmas Wish

Today was exactly the type of day we moved home for. Yesterday and this morning we got pummeled with snow, and tonight was crystal clear and cold (16 degrees!) and white about everywhere you looked. The kids went sledding earlier in the day, and then we had Grandma and Grandpa Bailey over for dinner (Indian Food!). After dinner the kids, (including Keegan) danced energetically to "Linus and Lucy," that absolutely perfect jazz piano number from a Charlie Brown Christmas, after which we all read Christmas stories together.

Among the stories we read, my favorite was "A Christmas Dress for Ellen" by Thomas Monson (chokes me up every time). Kate focused on "Christmas in the Trenches" by James McCutcheon. It recounts a Christmas Eve early in World War I, when British troops, huddled in their frozen, wet trenches, hear a beautifully rendered Christmas carol, floating across no man's land, sung in German. When it stopped, they returned the favor, singing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." Towards the end of that song, a lone figure, waiving a white flag, is seen walking across no man's land from the other side. A British soldier leaps out of their trenches to meet him, and soon they are joined by several others from both sides. They exchange small gifts, play a soccer game, and sing Silent Night together. Then as the morning is about to break, they return to their trenches, and all continues as it was before.

It may seem like an unusual choice for Kate, but she remembered a story we had told her some time ago, about my Great Grandpa Ludlum, who had served in World War I and had been gassed with mustard gas while in those trenches. He survived the initial attack, but his lungs were so scarred and burned that he lived for only a year or two after the War, with the result that my Grandma Winnie was an only child.

Some time after dinner was over, and everyone else had gone home or gone to bed, I came upon Kate, reading the story again, tears welling up in her big brown eyes. I asked if she was O.K. and she replied that she was just thinking about Great, Great Grandpa Ludlum, and all those people in the trenches. She wished "that he hadn't had to die that way, and that people would just stop fighting wars and keep singing Christmas songs." She wanted to know if he was in heaven, and if she would ever be able to see him so that she could hug him. We hugged for a long time -- she is so special.

It made me think about what the world would be like if it was ruled by little girls. Everyone would have to have a tender heart. There would be no wars. You could always stay up as late as you want to listening to music and reading and talking to friends, and you'd get to sleep in too. Ice cream would be a health food. Everyone would be fashionably appointed. Barbie would always find Ken, they would always have true love (and many children), and they would always be together. Best of all, there would be lots of hugging to go around.

So my Christmas wish for all is a world ruled by little girls. May sound silly, but I think we would be in very good hands. Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Children and Church

Well, it has taken all of two weeks for the Baileys to become 'that family' no one wants to sit next to in Church. Yes, that is right. Serving as Bishop five months ago, we were (supposed to be) models for a whole ward to follow. Now, you can't get anyone to sit within three pews of us.

Let me preface this downfall by mentioning that Keegan, 1, and Alden, 3, are already in full-throttle sibling rivalry. Everything Alden does, Keegan wants to do. And of course, Alden does not want Keegan to do what he is doing, at any time, in any way--threatens his very identity, don't you know. Now imagine that nascent testosterone having to endure three hours of church from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., with hour and ten minute long Sacrament meeting (our main, sit in the pews and listen to adults talk about the gospel meeting) last. This means, inescapably, that our Sacrament meeting pew is a bloody battle ground. By the time people start to give talks, Alden is dying hungry. Whatever he eats, Keegan dives after. Alden shoves back. Keegan bumps his head and screams. Dad gets mad at Alden. He cries loudly. You know the drill.

Well, we've managed to surpass even that regular ruckus lately. Two weeks ago, the Bishop and his counselors (the leaders of our local congregation), bless their sweet hearts, decided to talk for the whole meeting about Reverence. Yes, that lovely, sit still, be quiet, pay attention and prepare yourself to receive the message principle that is the bane of every parent. (Unknown if we are the root cause of the decision to address the issue. Speculation has run rampant, however.) Well, after spending half the meeting trying to wrestle the boys apart, I turned to Kathleen and mouthed 'get Keegan out of here.' She did. And no sooner had she walked out the doors to the foyer than Alden began to cry, in none too sotto voce, "I want my mommy!" Of course, he didn't really care about his mom. He cared that Keegan was with his mom, and he wasn't. But he wouldn't stop crying, so I had no choice but to usher him out, and leave his mother to wrestle them in the foyer, where they wouldn't disturb anyone. I came back in to sit with poor Kate, who had been left all alone in a big, long, empty row, with toys, cheerios and other detritus from the battle strewn all about.

All seemed well until just that moment when the Bishop was giving his most impassioned testimony about the importance of reverence. He had just built up to it when Alden came running through the foyer doors, straight to our row, and said, "Dad, Mom says it is time to go. Now." I'm not sure whether the Bishop heard it, but judging by the snickering laughter, almost everyone else did.

But did the embarrassment stop there? Oh no. Keegan had to top it the very next week. As usual, it was Sacrament meeting, and they were fighting over food. It got so intense that I told Kath, "I have to get Keegan out of here" (see, we learned something from the week before -- this time it was me taking Keegan). So I grabbed him under the arms, pulled him over so he was facing me, and was just on the verge of standing up to leave.

That is when he decided to vomit. Not just run of the mill spit up vomit. This was Projectile Style, complete with little chunks of food amidst the sour breast milk. And talk about volume--that boy must have hollow legs. Even his belly (which looks like his father's at this point) could not possibly hold such quantities of fluid. Kath tried desperately to block it with a clean diaper. I think she might have gotten a teaspoon or two. Mostly, I was the blessed recipient. It was on my shirt. It covered my tie. It absolutely coated my pants -- both front and back (I am not joking). It even pooled inside my shoe, which made for a nice squishy sound when I walked out-- amidst dead silence, and looks of "can you even believe that" horror/pity.

Keegan was no worse the wear five minutes later. I, however, have been scarred for life. I have now resolved to become one of the "Foyer People." You know, the ones that go to church but never actually step inside the chapel or the classroom. Just safely in the foyer, near the emergency exit. I think I'll be alright there. I think.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Let Them Eat Cake

In case you didn't know it, November is a Big Bailey Birthday Bash. Mine is on the 5th, Alden's is on the 10th, and Keegan's was today! We have celebrated with family all around this year, which made it even more fun. We are so thankful to have these two little November Boys in our lives. I love them so much, I don't even know where to start, except to say that they may actually be worth all the work they cause. (And let me just tell you, that is saying a whole lot.) Case in point: Keegan eating his first Birthday cake. Here is how it is done:

First, you get a little taste, and decide that sugar rush could be a really good thing.

Then, you dig in with everything you've got.

You raise your arms and grunt while jigging back and forth in a primal victory ritual.

And lick as much frosted cake off your fingers as you can with that tiny one-year old mouth.

Suddenly, you realize that this stuff is sticky, and may not go away.

You try squishing it off, and when that doesn't work . . .

You feed Papa Moon, who is a good sport and a problem solver if ever there was one.

Then you lean back, survey the damage, and wait for mom to fix it all.

And that is where the work comes in. He does clean up rather nicely though, so we think we'll keep him.

Happy Birthday Keegan!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Toto, We Are Not In Kansas Anymore

We've noticed that there are some differences between California and Utah, and it is keeping us scrambling (so much so that we have been derelict in our blogging, with so many things to think about and do). For example, who knew that you have to seal your driveway with cement sealer every year before winter hits? Drain your sprinklers too? Rake up leaves so you don't get mold on your roof and lawn and other places? Clean your gutters and make sure there are no shorts in the strange icicle prevention device that lines the edges of our roof? 

Just when you think you're kind of getting used to it, something else pops up that reminds you that we are in a whole different world. A few examples:
  • There are not zero, not one or two, but three (yes three!) country music stations on the FM dial. This is a good thing. The down-side: the only more popular format is the ultra- conservative talk show of the screaming-head, invade the world and shoot all the liberals variety. (They scare me, like a plague virus--it gives me the willies just to skip by them. Thank heaven for preset buttons.)
  • I actually saw someone with a full blown mullet yesterday. Yikes.
  • People carry around step-ladders to help them get into their trucks. And it is not because Utah is a state full of vertically challenged people.
  • If you turn left, you cannot assume that the oncoming traffic will stop or even slow when the light turns red (forget yellow -- it may as well be a "gun that engine" sign). People run red lights around here like it is a constitutional right. I've had more near head-ons caused by assuming that some courtesy will be show to us poor left-turning people than I care to think about. (Sorry, pal, it may be Zion, but when we get in our cars, it's each one for himself.  Besides, you're turning to the left.)
  • Speaking of traffic, there are some interesting unwritten rules here. Like if there are three cars and three lanes, each car has to fill one of those lanes. And cruise along side by side. At the same speed. Forever.
  • If you don't have a stable of ATVs, snowmobiles, at least one large boat and one mobile home, with a Hummer in the yard of your 7000 square foot house on a quarter-acre lot, you just haven't arrived yet.
  • There are polygamists everywhere. I feel like I've landed in the middle of an HBO miniseries. They own property just down the hill from us, and there is a compound (literally -- there is no other word for it) across the street from Kate's school. Then there is the co-op store they run on main street. Of course, you never actually see them. But everybody knows (think Leonard Cohen). It just feels strange.
  • You go to the park, and see someone about your age with kids about the age yours are. Being the polite, friendly type you walk up and say, "your kids are so cute, how old are they?" The response: "Oh, these are my grandchildren, and . . ." True story. Happened twice. We don't ask anymore. It is safe to say we are not in Marin County.
Of course, some things about coming home have been a joy. The mountains are just spectacular -- I never really gave them the credit they deserved when I was a kid. There is nothing quite like the smell of August after a thunderstorm here, or the crispness of mornings after a cold rain, with leaves on the ground everywhere. The rich earthiness of it feels like life itself. Autumn has been spectacular, and even the now bare trees have a beauty that speaks of age and endurance and essence and survival.

If you are a kid, there are many other pleasant surprises.  Like finding your mom's wedding dress and trying it on.

Or knowing that you can go to grandpa's deck to eat pine cones any day of the week.

Then there is the fact that you don't have to wear your sunglasses at night to escape the glare of the paparazzi . . .
And mom and dad are so busy you can watch as much Blue's Clues as you want and smile like the Cheshire Cat stealing cream.

Or just having a lot of family around to make you laugh.

And if that is not enough, there are the sunsets from our deck . . . :-)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Oh dear, we shouldn't do this, but. . .

On October 11, we were blog-tagged by our friend Karen. We have to write 6 facts or habits about us. Sounds like an invitation to embarass ourselves, but we feel oddly compelled to respond, like when you get those silly forward to 10 friends or you'll have bad luck emails. So here we go:

1. Kathleen hates having shoes on her feet, almost as much as she loves leaving them right in the middle of the entryway where I trip on them without fail. You would think after the millionth time, one of us would do something to change. You would be wrong. It will be the death of me. I need to start Yoga classes just so I don't pull muscles on such a routine basis.

2. I sometimes snore loud enough to rattle windows. Kathleen actually thinks "its kind of nice" (so she says) because "it lets me know you're alive and breathing." Rather than jab me with elbows, she gently rubs my head (could be why I am going bald)--says it works every time. So she can leave her shoes any dang place she pleases.

3. I will eat almost any type of food -- Indian, Ethiopian, Morroccan, Afghani -- I've even eaten grilled cow hearts and raw marinated fish (ceviche) on the streets of Peru, for Pete's sake, but if you give me any of the following, I will gag: Mayonnaise, Mustard, Ketchup, Pickles, raw tomato, warm lettuce. So much for the all american meal.

4. Our second date was in a driving rainstorm, and began by running a letter to a drop box for Kathleen's father. Liberated modern American man that I am, I sat contentedly while she got out of the car, ran in front of it to the drop box, and ran back, all without offering to do it for her or even giving her my coat or an umbrella. As she ran back in front of the car, she slipped and fell so completely that all I saw, from my cozy, heater-warmed driver's seat, was her upside down shoes flying through the headlights. I laughed. Hard. She got up. She laughed as hard as I did, and was still laughing when she got in the car. At that moment, I knew I was deeply, irretrievably in love. Despite all this, Kathleen actually consented to go out with me again. There is no explaining this. She is beautiful, talented, vivacious and smart. I am the luckiest chump alive.

5. Kathleen is Libra to the core. She analyzes every decision to the Nth degree, deeply agonizes in making it, and then can still be found, agonizing and analyzing, months or years after the decision has been made and is long gone. And no, this doesn't just pertain to her decision to marry. Though I am sure that one keeps her awake at nights on a regular basis.

6. Tomorrow is my birthday. I turn 45. There, I've said it. Now maybe the healing can begin.

So sorry, protocol demands that I now tag others. Annie Ballard, Brian Goodman (who needs to explain that whole dark socks and shorts thing on Candice Drew's blog), Paul Jager, and Cyrus Javadi, who needs to explain a lot more than socks.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween 2007

The ghost of the chicken rider struts, triumphant . . . .

42 pictures. 10 minutes of "when can we eat our candy" whining. No pictures where all three kids looked at the camera at once. Must be the infamous "princess chicken-rider chewbacca curse."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Getting in the Halloween Spirit

We spent the evening tonight carving pumpkins, in preparation for Halloween. They make a sufficiently frightening sight, don't they?

Two little ghouls could not have been happier (Keegan was in bed by the time we finished, or he would have been all over those babies).

Last but not least, just another sunset. I know, I know, you are thinking "can't that guy take pictures of anything else?" But they are just so fun, I can't help myself. Sorry.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Few Comments from the Boy Maid

One of the fun features of our new house is a very large tub in the master bath that doubles as a hot tub, complete with very strong jets. The kids have discovered this, and now refuse to bathe anywhere else, particularly because, if you turn it on after washing with soap, the action creates a thick pile of bubbles. This evening, as Kate and Alden were basking in bubbles, Kate said, "I think I shall pretend that I am at a Spa!" I was in the process of picking up the clothes they had shed and mentioned that I would be right back as soon as I took the clothes down to their rooms. To this, Kate responded: "Dad, are you pretending to be a BOY MAID?" Yes, dear, I pretend that every dang day of my life.

In other news, the dog days of summer, which Keegan so enjoyed (he is definitely an outside person), seem to have left us. It has snowed the last three or four Saturdays in a row and rained the two before that. (It is like a maddening clockwork -- oh, Saturday, time to snow . . . . have I mentioned this before? Do I sound stir crazy already?) Anyway, Kate sure has enjoyed seeing snow fall. It has left us with two very sick little boys this week, though. Keegan's cough has been something fierce, and I know his throat really hurts him, because he has cried much more than ever. Just today Alden was so concerned about it, he went over to him and said, "don't worry Keegan, I right here." He has warmed up to his brother quite a bit lately, even giving him a hug a few days ago. Happy to see that developing, believe me.

This is a view of the Bountiful Temple, taken from our back deck. Posting it because Kath and I talked in Church today, and have had a wonderful spirit with us all day, which the Temple symbolizes so well. I'll post my talk below, and do Kath's tomorrow -- she did just a great job, but needs to edit it slightly before I post. By the way, has anyone ever heard of the Gospel/Christian group Selah? Listening to them right now, and some of their stuff is really good. Particularly like a song called "Rescue Me." Anyway, here is my talk.

Following the Prophet Helps Us Come Unto Christ

Good afternoon brothers and Sisters. First, I am so grateful to be here today. My wife failed to mention in introducing us that we each have special talents:
• Keegan’s is being happy, and charming you with his ever present smile.
• Alden’s is an uncanny ability to completely trash any room he enters within about two minutes, and still have you come away thinking he’s the cutest little guy on the planet.
• Kate’s is simply unconditional love for everyone she meets – it is truly a special gift and she is a really special girl.
• Kathleen’s talents are too numerous to mention, but my favorite is the inexplicable blindness that was crucial in convincing her to marry me.
• My special talent, evident already, is blubbering like a fool in Sacrament meeting, particularly when asked to speak. A good friend once told me that men don’t cry, but sometimes their eyeballs sweat something fierce. I have very sweaty eyeballs.

Bro. Gilbert asked us to speak on how following the Prophet helps us come unto Christ. I would like to suggest today that there is no other way to come unto Christ. In particular, I think the two most critical things we can do in coming to Christ are to listen, truly listen to the Prophet’s voice, and to serve as directed by the priesthood over which the Prophet presides.
To illustrate the importance of the first point, of listening to the Prophet’s voice, I would like to begin with a familiar scripture.

John, Chapter 10:
1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Here, the Savior teaches that we need to know his voice personally, so that we can follow him where he leads, and avoid being led away by those that are false shepherds. In the context of our topic today, I suggest that in order to come unto Christ, we need master the skill of hearing and recognizing his voice, and following it to where he will be.
So how do we become familiar with the Savior’s voice? Would you recognize it if you heard it? What does it sound like?

The Savior himself has suggested a way for us to know exactly how his voice sounds. Speaking as the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Savior told the Prophet Jeremiah:

5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
6 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
7 But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee, that shalt thou speak.

9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

So the Lord is clear that prophets speak his words, that he literally puts his words into their mouths. He again emphasized this strong identity between his words and the words of his prophets at the beginning of this dispensation. The very first section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 38, declares: “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” We know, of course, from Amos 3:7 that his servants are “the prophets.” To this I would add that if you think about the Temple Ceremony, it teaches very clearly about how Christ communicates through his apostles and prophets, and reinforces the strong identity between the words of the prophets and the words of the Savior.

In short, there is no better way to know the timber and pitch and cadence of the Savior’s voice than to listen to his Prophet, for those words are the Savior’s words. By just listening intently to the Prophet, we can learn to recognize the Savior’s voice, and follow it at critical times in our life. I think sometimes we may take for granted, or maybe just not realize, how lucky we are to be able to hear a true prophet, and how much listening to him can really teach us to recognize the voice of the Savior. I had a stark reminder of this just the day before yesterday.

Driving home from work, I was listening to NPR, and they were talking about Mitt Romney and how his religion is proving to be a real issue for him in the Republican Party. During the story, they played a piece of a sermon given by some prominent minister from one of those mega-churches in Texas. In the snippet he said: “Whatever Mormons are, they are certainly not Christians. They are a cult!”

His tone was filled with anger, and fear, and venom. It had nothing of the peace, the hope, the quiet confidence, and the true love that comes through every time the Prophet speaks. I was saddened to think that the people in that Texas congregation could not hear the harshness in that voice, or discern the nature of the spirit it brought. As I thought about that, I recognized so clearly that President Hinckley truly speaks with the Savior’s voice. Because of him, I know what my Savior sounds like, I know the spirit that his voice brings. I know which voice to follow. How grateful I am for that knowledge. I pray I will never take for granted the opportunity to hear a prophet speak. It is a gift most precious to those who are trying to find Christ in this crazy world.

My second point is that a critical aspect of coming unto Christ is to serve as directed by our priesthood leaders. Not just the Prophet, but all those who are called under his authority, and particularly our local leaders. I have the firmest of testimonies that following those leaders really gives us special opportunities to learn of Christ and come unto him. I’d like to relate some personal experiences from our time in California to illustrate this point.

Just over a year ago was one of the most stressful times in my life. I had been privileged to serve as Bishop of the San Rafael II Ward, but had really come to a point where I was so tired. I was physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted. I had run faster than I had strength, and I didn’t want to do another thing.

Well, at just that low moment, President Wasden, a member of our Stake Presidency, told me he had been impressed that I should speak in Stake Conference, which was just two weeks away. Now don’t get me wrong, that is not the hugest of burdens to place on a person. It’s just that I was so tired I really didn’t think I could do one more thing. I had every intention of saying no when I opened my mouth. But for some reason I didn’t. I said I’d be happy to.

He said, great, the theme is Matthew 11:28-30, which reads:
28 ¶ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

This was one of my favorite scriptures, and seemed to promise that if I would just take another small step in the yoke, as encouraged by my Priesthood leader, that everything would be o.k.

Brothers and Sisters, that little step made all the difference for me. The following week, I sat down to watch General Conference. Up stood Dallin Oaks, first speaker of the conference, and the very first words out of his mouth were “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden.” As he said those words, it was like a spiritual floodgate just opened in my heart. There I was, in my living room, having what was one of the most profound spiritual experiences of my life. I can’t really describe or explain this. I’m sure that no one else sitting in the room was having the same experience. But I knew that this was the church of Jesus Christ, and that he guides it. This experience was so profound that it was almost like I didn’t even have a testimony before.

Suddenly, it seemed as if every talk in conference was for me. There was Elder Ballard telling me that it is about people not programs, just love the people. You can’t get it all done, there is always more, do what you can. And there was Elder Holland, testifying that no matter my shortcomings, the Savior reaches out his arm all the day long after me. And so it continued. There in my living room, surrounded by clutter and playing children, I had one of the most treasured spiritual experiences I will ever have in my life. I received such a testimony of the church, of all of it, so much more complete and full and vibrant than it has ever been before. And then at priesthood meeting, when President Hinckley challenged us to “Rise Up!” I was thrilled, because I heard the voice not of a man, but of a Prophet of God. And I knew it. I knew it for my own self, and from no other. That is a witness that I will never forget.

That experience would not have been possible If I had not been following my priesthood leaders, and doing my best to serve as they asked me to. It was an experience that drew me closer to the Savior than I have ever been. I cannot even imagine what my life would be like without that experience.

Brothers and Sisters, I bear testimony that we need to listen to the Prophet’s voice, and to serve diligently as directed by our priesthood leaders. The blessings of doing so are beyond price, and will help you come unto Christ.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Up on a Roof

We have been so busy getting settled and into new routines that we hardly have time to do anything fun or of real importance these days, but somehow, we always manage to pause for our Bountiful sunsets. Hawaii notwithstanding, it is pretty tough to beat them. These were taken from our roof. Hopefully you can see why we make the time.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Oh Canada!

This past week I was in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada to assist local counsel in a land use trial. The city has about 100,000 residents, and is located on the Northwestern edge of Lake Superior, just north and west of Isle Royal National Park. The town began as a major trading post for fur trapping companies in the early 1800s, and soon became a port for Canada's other major exports -- timber and grain, shipped by rail from the vast middle of the country to this industrial town. The city itself is old and feels like a small Buffalo. Its outstanding feature is a series of huge grain elevators along the length of its shore line.

However, Thunder Bay (the actual bay for which the town is named) looks like this:

The pictures are taken from a lookout in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, which lies just north and east of the City on a Peninsula jutting out into Lake Superior. Trial ended early on Thursday, and even though it had been raining, I drove out to the park rather than give in to my exhaustion. I found myself sitting on a cliff, surrounded by the colors of fall, watching the sun set. It did not suck.

Take a look at that last photo up close. Who would know that those grain elevators at the beginning of this post could be part of such a beautiful scene? Goes to show that with photography, as in life, it all depends on your perspective and on the quality of the light you have.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Oh the weather outside is frightful!

Snow. In my yard. All day. Sticking around through the night. And I am headed to Canada (yes, the "Great White North") for work all next week. Wondering if it is too late to move back, or even, gulp, to try Arizona instead. Can you tell we have been under a prolonged period of stress?!

When things like this happen (cold and stress and nearly losing your mind) there is only one thing to do. Think about Hawaii! And so I did. I have been wanting to post pictures from our trip to Maui last February for a long time, and today seemed as good a day as any to do so, at least as my answer to the stress and snow.

The islands are nothing short of magical. I experience a truly physical change when I get there. Blood pressure drops. Heart beats slower. Mind stops racing. Time seems to stand still long enough to actually take the world in. What a gift. Your worst day on Maui will be better than your best day in most other places in the world. Why is that, you may ask? Well, it may have something to do with the fact that your day starts with sunrise on Haleakala . . .

Then moves on to humpback whales, sea turtles, beaches and sand . . . .

And finishes off with fish tacos and sunsets like these . . .

So if you are feeling stressed, or having to deal with snow, just put on a little Sonny Lim, or Brother Iz, and stare at these photos for a while. You will notice the change, I promise.

By the way, thanks to all who commented last week. It is nice to fish for comments and actually catch some. Especially when they are from such high quality people! Doubt I will be posting much from Canada this week, but I may have a few shots to share when I return next Saturday. Blog you then.