Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Mayan Adventure...

I sat across the table from 'lil Corey'. He was wearing a red beanie with a DC logo just left of center and his shirt bore the logo of Independent Truck Company. He ordered the bean and cheese burrito that turned out to be more cheese than bean or burrito. He scraped the excess cheese off the top as he spoke about his goal of becoming a professional skate boarder. I asked who his idol was using my limited knowledge of the skateboarding world. The obvious question, 'do you want to be the next Tony Hawk' was answered quickly in the negative. Next I asked about Bob Burnquist (he's Brazilian) and he was a little more receptive and said, 'yeah, he's a little more street.'

I decided to give up on guessing and asked who his favorite skater was. I should have known the answer...Rodney Mullen. If you've ever seen him skate, you would probably agree with Corey...he's one of the best 'street' skaters of all-time.

Corey is no different from any other kid who has dreams or aspirations of becoming the next professional athlete. In fact, his story is strikingly similar to a variety of them. He lives in a two-bedroom apartment with his mom, little sister, older brother, his niece, and sometimes his brother's girlfriend. He doesn't have much contact with his father and sadly, he prefers it that way.

The few hours that we spend together a few times a month provides him with a chance to escape his harsh reality. I call it harsh but I've never heard him complain about his circumstances...not even once. If ever there was a 'chain-breaker' Corey is it. He is one of the most polite and respectful children you'll ever meet. He's not perfect, he still struggles with his grades and fights with siblings (who doesn't?) BUT, he tries AND that is what matters.

As I sat and picked at my food I thought about what the few hours we spend together a few times each month means to me. It is a chance to learn and to grow, it's a humbling reality check, it's a time when I can forget about my own concerns and worry about his, and, perhaps the best part, it's a chance to let the kid in me come out.

At 7:15, we put down our forks and made our way closer to the edge of the balcony to get a better look at the show that was about to begin. A man and a woman alternated turns taking dives from different platforms. When it was over Corey turned to me and said, 'that was too short'. He was referring to the entertainment but that same sentiment rings true for life. Life is too short not to take advantage of the time that we have been given, and to spend time with the people that matter most.

The Mayan is a place for decent food, good entertainment, and great conversation.

If you're in the position and you have a few extra hours a month that you would be willing to set aside and volunteer...try out the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. There's a good chance you can help a child from a broken home BUT, more than likely, that child will end up helping you.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Colorful Colorado

Colorful Colorado:

When I first drove across the Colorado border and came to this sign, I wasn’t really seeing it.

That changed. On my return trip from the Four Corners area I stopped by Mesa Verde National Park. During this time of year it’s more like Mesa Amarillo, Rojo, or Laranja. Mesa Verde is primarily known for its ancient ruins. I was only able to scratch the surface of what the park had to offer.

Mesa Verde is generally pretty resistant to fires however, over the past century there have been a variety of lighting-sparked fires that have burned their way through thousands of acres of the National Park.

As I drove through and saw the scars of those fires, a thought came to mind…it was inspired by a book that I had finished the week before. It was this: ‘God can take even the greatest of tragedies in our lives and turn them into something beautiful, or at the very least create something beneficial to us.’ I guess is along the same lines of the ‘silver-lining to every cloud’ theory.

In the past 15 years there have been two large wildfires in Mesa Verde and archaeologists were able to discover many of the ancient artifacts, etc. hidden by the vegetation. In addition, to those wonderful discoveries, the old/burned trees provide a beautiful contrast to the vegetation that has now taken the place of the ash covered ground.

Colorado is indeed Colorful!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My Dream Home

Located just a few miles up Spanish Fork Canyon on Highway 6 is my dream home. I know, I know...guys probably aren't supposed to have those. I like this house more for it's location than anything else (i could do without the pink exterior...but i'd also put up with it just to live there). Anyway, I'm sure after looking at the picture below, you'll understand why.

Nothing beats a leisurely drive up the canyon during this time of year. Unfortunately, the camera just never seems to do it least not when I'm behind the camera. But, you get the idea.

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Life's Aim...

In a letter to his brother Theo, Van Gogh wrote the following words:

"And my aim in my life is to make pictures and drawings, as many and as well as I can; then, at the end of my life, I hope to pass away, looking back with love and tender regret, and thinking, “Oh, the pictures I might have made!”

I was on a trip to New Mexico this weekend and because of past experiences, I've learned to never leave my camera home. And, after this trip, I'll learn to never leave my spare camera battery home. I thought I was doing well to charge it the night before leaving. But, as I quickly learned, a charged battery does little if you don't have it with you.

After making a couple of stops along the way to take pictures, I looked down and noticed that the 'low battery' light was flashing on my camera. Fortunately, I had taken all of the pictures that I wanted to take that day...knowing that I would be back in a few days to take any others that I might like.

On my return trip to Salt Lake City, I made a quick stop at my favorite 'elephant graveyard' and took a few more pictures. A few miles down the road I also passed a familiar tree. The last time I saw it was on a cold December afternoon. This time it was a lot different. It turns out that the last picture I was able to take was of this tree against a blue sky.

I made many more stops on the way home and as I did, I looked back with tender regret and thought, 'Oh the pictures I might have taken.'

I came across long stretches of straight roads that trailed off over the horizon, the silhouette of deer feeding along the side of the road, the Balanced Rock & Delicate Arch, as well as many other photos that made wish I had remembered to bring the spare battery.

So, take as many pictures as you can, as well as you can...then, when your battery runs out, you can look back on the pictures that you might have taken and save them for another day. But as 'way leads on to way' it's never certain you'll be back.

This is what is believed to be one of Van Gogh's last paintings (Daubigny's Garden...there's also a version with a black cat).

He followed up his thought to Theo with these words: 'But this does not exclude making what is possible, mind you.' So, do what you can while you can...AND do the best you can.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sunflowers and Trees

For anyone that doesn't know me (or at least this fact about me)...I like to take pictures of random trees. Of all of the trees I've ever seen, this one has to be my favorite. It stands tall along one of the busiest sections of I-15...on average, over 115,000 people pass it daily. I finally took a second to snap a picture of it.

I also happen to love sunflowers. If you drive through Colorado around this time of year you'll come across miles and miles of sunflower farms (the seeds have to come from somewhere). But, if you live in Utah you might just have to settle with a sunflower growing in between the asphalt and sidewalk...

Or, you can get a close-up of a flower and your favorite tree in the background.

If you haven't had your fill of sunflowers and trees, you can check out a couple more pics on my other blog.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Number 12

I know it’s a little bit late but I was inspired by a ‘wounded mosquito’ to pay tribute to one of the greatest basketball players to ever play the game. Last week John Stockton was enshrined in the Hall of Fame. As I listened to his speech and that of Michael Jordan I was grateful that I had chosen number 12 as my childhood idol.

Stockton, like many of the memories I associate with him, has faded into relative obscurity over the years. As he spoke, those memories came flooding back along with my admiration for him. He seemed just as humble and gracious as ever attributing a large part of his success to those who helped him along the way.

I spent countless hours in the backyard pretending to be John Stockton. I watched him every chance I got. In fact, one of the most meaningful experiences of my younger years was the night that John Stockton broke the NBA All-Time Assist record. My dad bought two tickets to the game. He calculated when he thought that Stockton would do it and he was right.

There were banners hung over the upper bowl counting down the number of assists until he broke the record. Half-way through the second quarter, he did it.

From the draft pick when he was booed, to the night we was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame with a standing ovation, John Stockton has always maintained the characteristics that made him great, integrity, loyalty, humility, etc.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Red White And Blue...

"They say time heals all wounds. I don't agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone” – Rose Kennedy

It was a day that we promised to never forget. A day that the American spirit was rekindled in each and every one of its citizens. A day that age, race, religious denomination, and political faction were set aside and we became united as one people, ‘indivisible with liberty and justice for all.’ The American Flag was displayed in car windows and store front displays. ‘Old Glory’ hung from the highest buildings and was hoisted up throughout large cities and small towns across the country. There was a renewed sense of pride in the Star Spangled Banner and a strengthened conviction to defend the ‘red, white, and blue’ and everything it stood for and symbolized.

The price that was paid that day for the unity that was borne from such a senseless act has been increasing ever since. In addition to the innocent people that lost their lives on September 11th, there have been countless more who have given their lives to ensure that something like that never happens again.

Pride, honor, respect, and love were not the only emotions that we experienced that day. Sorrow, anguish, fear, anger, and multitude of other feelings ran through our veins. Time will not heal those wounds, and that pain may have lessened with time but it will never be gone. I do not pretend to understand or comprehend the pain of loss that was experienced by family members, co-workers, and friends that day and every day since. The best that any of us can do is to maintain that sense of community, unity, and brotherhood…and, treat each other accordingly.

To the innocent people that lost their lives and to their families that were left behind, I offer my deepest sympathies. And, to the people who have given their lives throughout the history of this great nation to defend a cause greater than themselves I give my utmost respect for the ultimate price you have paid. I am deeply humbled by your sacrifice and eternally grateful for it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sun Valley

Every year my family has a tradition of going to Sun Valley, ID. If you've never been, you need to go. If you've been before, you need to go back. May I suggest Labor Day as the perfect time to go. The weather is perfect, the commemorate Wagon Days, and they hold an auto auction. The only thing better than that is to be able to spend the weekend with family.

You may notice that there is a certain individual missing...(Kurt). As part of the celebration for Wagon Days, there is an art gallery stroll held on Friday night. Last year we only caught the tail end. Determined to see as much of it as possible this year, we made sure to get to Sun Valley early. We had time to get settled in and to grab a bite to eat before walking between the galleries. We settled on mexican food. Kurt is deathly allergic to cilantro. Being the concerned brother-in-law that I am...I made sure that he made it to the emergency room in time and then rushed back to check out the art on display. He reassured he'd be in good hands and that he would call when he was ready to be picked up. Unfortunately, this photo was taken before he made it back.

Labor Day Weekend was an adventure to say the least. The important thing is that we got to spend time together as a family and we ALL made it home safely.