Monday, December 26, 2016

The Home Stretch...

or Part 4 of my Literary Challenge....


#38 . The Aeneid by Virgil

I have a bit of a confession on this one, I scanned some sections.  I am on my third variation of the Trojan War this year with The Odyssey and The Iliad already completed.  I started it and then recognized a weird underlying theme....so I did some research into the Aeneid and found that one of its criticisms is that it is a not so veiled pro Augustus, the Roman emperor, tale.  I then realized why I was not enjoying it...we are having our current political season shoved down our throats and I can take no more.  I may put this on my reading list in the future when I can read it without the two other poems so fresh in my mind and also without the politics so fresh in my mind....

#46 . Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

As you may remember, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte is one of my least favorite books EVER!  So I approached Jane Eyre with trepidation and very quickly found that having a different Bronte sister as the author makes a world of difference.  I LOVED this book!  The descriptive words, the gentle, yet never boring, pace, and tale of knowing your own worth, even when others do not, and standing by your principles.  I cannot recommend this book enough!!!


#11. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

There are books that even though you really didn't enjoy or like reading, you can appreciate what the author is doing, 'The Brothers Karamazov' falls into this camp for me.  As much as my reading challenge has taught me that I love French authors, I am realizing that Russian authors are not my favorites.  I found this book to be rambling and overly dramatic at times.  It poses a valid questions of how to balance religious and a secular life.   I have friends, whose opinions and preferences I respect and generally agree with, that have this and other Dostoyevsky novels as their all time favorites.  I now can say I have read him and appreciated the experience, but have no plan to do it again.


#42 . The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

I have started the first Tale multiple times due to the fact that the version I am reading is in Middle English and it has taken me a bit to get used to it.   Once you get past the language, it flies and is quite entertaining with humor and lessons abounding (even women's rights)...the best tip I received, read it aloud.  It helps you find the rhythm and helps with the comprehension too.


#49 . The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka by Franz Kafka

I have read more short stories this year than I have in my entire life this year due to this challenge.  As with the other collections I have read this year, some stick out and some you just read and leave.  The surprise of this collection was the unexpected humor, granted a bit dark and sarcastic at times, but humor none the less.....

#39 . David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Well, I read it...and it was good, but I wasn't wowed by it.  David Copperfield is believed to be an a thinly veiled autobiography story of Dicken's life.   It is his most popular book, but it isn't mine.  It's going to end up one of those books that I read, but don't really remember.......

#50 . Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne

We all have someone in our life that when telling a story gets sidetracked at the slightest distraction and as a result you often don't always get the whole story from them but it is generally entertaining.  Tristram Shandy is like that person, it is supposed to be his life story, but when you haven't even gotten to his birth over a third of the way thru the book, you know you're in for an adventure.  It is laugh out loud funny and quite the satire with profound wisdom scattered throughout.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable way to end this year's challenge.

Still reading...
Melissa



Monday, December 12, 2016

An Unexpected Crime.....


I was robbed the other day.....
not of a material possession or money, but of time.

I had 36 hours stolen from me.

As I have mentioned here before, I periodically get migraine headaches.  They are nasty, not fun, and painful, so as a result,  I have learned my triggers to avoid them.

My biggest triggers and the cause of my most painful migraines are the result of nuts, with cashews, almonds, and walnuts being the worst culprits.  I can eat pecans in small portions and have no issues with peanuts, but there is a chemical compound in the others that trigger my migraines.  

As a result of this knowledge, I ask about ingredients when presented with food.  In restaurants, I don't order items with my triggers.  When I eat at someone's home, if they ask beforehand, I tell them and if they don't, I ask at serving and then just avoid the food with nuts.  I truly appreciate when alterations are made to recipes to allow me to eat them, but at the same time, I get embarrassed that one person is altering a recipe.  I have no problem or issue just not eating the items with nuts...

I do have a problem when I ask and someone doesn't think it's a big deal that there are nuts in something and either lies or forgets, which is forgivable, but frustrating!

The robbery of my 36 hours came when someone was trying out a recipe for Thanksgiving and asked me to try it.  Knowing the baker and her dietary preferences, I asked specifically if there were nuts in it and was told no......

but there was.  Almond flour used in place of oat flour.  1 cup worth.  Half of the flour used was almond flour.  For the record, nut flours count as NUTS!!!!!!!!!!!!   There was going to be no stopping this migraine. 

For the next day and a half, it felt like there was an ice pick in my right eye.  My vision was blurry and had auras.  Sensitivity to sound was unbearable.  Nausea was my constant companion.  I don't sleep all that well due to the pain, so even after the migraine ends, I feel wiped out.

It has taken a while but my Doctor and I have figured out a medication plan that works.  First to be tried is a homeopathic remedy that works for 95% of my migraine and has no side effects.  This time, nothing.....  Next is a prescription medication that is a lower level migraine drug.  I prefer it to the next option.  NADA....  Finally is a pill form of a drug, that I prefer in a shot form, but my insurance doesn't like to cover, so a pill it is.  If I get to this level and it doesn't work with in a hour, I am to go to the ER for what will be a couple of days stay due to the side effects of the injection I will receive.  It took 45 minutes for it to kick in and start to help, so I at least avoided the ER, but now I had to deal with the side effects of this drug.  UGH.

I say this next sentence with a plea....

PLEASE RESPECT SOMEONE WHEN THEY TELL YOU THEY HAVE AN ISSUE WITH FOOD!  IT IS NOT A JOKE!  

When someone asks, it can be life threatening.  My migraines, while annoying and painful, for the most part are not life threatening, but other allergies and triggers can be.  

As a result of this episode, I have been having some interesting conversations about allergies, triggers and issues with food with different people.  It's not an easy thing to deal with on multiple levels...  As someone hosting or preparing food, it can sometimes feel like a mine field of things you can not serve.  As a someone with issues, you feel like a bit of a troublemaker.....

I am writing this blog at this time of year with food being the focus of some celebrations for awareness and acceptance....

If I turn down your food, that you prepared with love, it isn't because I don't appreciate it, it's because it's not worth the pain it will cause if there are nuts in it.   I desperately wish that I could partake and I do not want you to go out of your way to accommodate the needs of one.

Not so nutty,
Melissa










Thursday, December 8, 2016

How I ended up cleaning the kitchen at Midnight.......



As I was going to bed, the other night,  I glanced down at my toes, which just a few weeks earlier had been pampered with a pedicure, were now looking a bit scruffy and needing to have the polish removed.

No big deal, right?
Simple, right?
In theory, yes...  Reality proved much more complicated.

Here's how it went down....
I got out the cotton balls, swabs and the remover.

It started easy enough with the cotton balls.  I got the majority of the polish off and then realized I needed the cotton swabs to clean them the rest of the way.  I dipped the first swab in the bottle of remover and lost my grip and in it went........

So now I have a cotton swab floating in my nail polish remover.  Problem #1

I tried angling the bottle to get it out and no go.
The liquid was going to have to leave the bottle to get the swab out.  A new plan was quickly devised..

Since nail polish remover isn't the most edible liquid ever, I decided to triple up 2 plastic cups and pour it in to them.  I then went to the kitchen sink and proceeded to shake out the cotton swab.  Success!  And then I heard a muffled pop...

The nail polish remover had eaten thru one of the plastic cups and now the remover was going all over the counter and onto the floor.  I immediately run over to the other one and in not one of my smarter moments pick up the 2nd cup and the bottom falls out and remover splashes all over the place.

Here's a fun fact for you....nail polish remover upon running into plastic, say a bread bag, immediately starts to destroy it.

Food had to be rescued and put in new containers, nail polish remover wiped up and then counters, floor and cabinets had to be sanitized.

And that is how I ended up cleaning the kitchen at Midnight the other night...

Facepalm....
Melissa

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Literary Discussion, Part Three

Can you believe how fast this year is flying by?  Here are links to the full challengepart one, and part two.

#9.  The Divine Comedy by Dante Alleghieri

There are some books in which you know that while you may get the gist of it when you read it for the first time, you probably won't get all of the complexities of it, The Divine Comedy falls into that for me.  Scholars spend their whole careers studying this book;  I spent a week and a half reading it....

So, here is my take...  It's basically a mid life crisis book that ends up giving us a guide for life.  Dante has reached the mid point of his life and is asking and pondering some pretty deep questions.  He is taken through Hell, and gives a pretty gruesome and gory vision of it and some say, our idea of hell,  Purgatory and Heaven.  I found things to take from each section to incorporate into my life...

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown (a book club's selection)

This book robbed me of sleep!  What a fun, light, yet never lame summer read!  A chef is taken hostage by a female pirate....the bad guys turn out not to be such bad guys and as for the 'good guys' just read and find out...

#30 . The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov

A collection of absolutely amazing short stories!  You are taken to Czarist Russia and given glimpses into everyday life with mastery of plot and the execution of words.  Some stories are only a few pages long, but others are 20.  He knew how to stop, not give to much, but at the same time, not to have a story feel incomplete.  Ironically, I had meant to read a couple of stories a night and then read something else, but I inhaled this collection of Anton Chekhov's....

#40 . Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

For the first little bit of the book, you feel like you are on a merry-go-round with characters jumping on and off and feeling a little lost, but then you see through the chaos and once again the brillance and gift of Virginia Woolf shines through.  Simple moments, like a walk through a park, can trigger a thousand and one memories and choices taken or not taken.....

The Food of a Young Land:  The WPA's Portrait of Food in Pre-WWII America
           (a food challenge item) by Mark Kurlansky

Did you know that FDR's New Deal had a provision in it to help writers get back to work as well?  It was know as the Federal Writer's Project (FWP).  Their first task was to complete guidebooks about the entire United States and some of them are still in use today.  Their second was never completed, a documentation of what Americans were really eating in 1940, not the flashy, trendy food, but what they were having dinner every week.  The organizers sent writers out to find out but the beginning of WWII ended the project and it was lost to oblivion until the author stumbled upon a box in the Library of Congress.....


#43 . Collected Fiction by Jorge Luis Borges

Another collection of short stories for this challenge, but this one I did not speed through, but slowly absorbed and contemplated.  Jorge Luis Borges is a master of words and of the short story.  I would only read one a night because they took all of my concentration and I didn't want to miss a word.  There were some stories I liked better than others, but I think that is the case in most collections....

#4.  Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Call me Ishmael, nope, I'll call you someone who ignores all signs and warnings.  Captain Ahab, take some advice from Elsa and 'Let it Go!!'.  The Whale, maybe you could take some anger management classes.  I read the true story last year that inspired Melville to write Moby Dick and enjoyed it soooooooooooooooooooo  much more than this.  I was actively cheering for the whale....  Moral of the story, vengeance never ends well, pay attention to signs, and if you're a whale avoid big boats...


#26 . Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

Pull up a chair, relax, sip an iced tea or a cocktail on the porch and enjoy this Southern masterpiece.  There are multiple narrators with varying degrees of fact, but each tell their own truths and isn't it interesting that a person's truth may not always be fact.  Faulkner's gift (or the thing that drives non Faulkner fans crazy) is his ability to tell a story in an non linear sense...you jump all around the time line of this story of a man who wanted to build an empire without learning from not only his mistakes from the the past, but a collective community's .


#31 . The Red and the Black by Stendhal

A tale of a young man who doesn't fit into his family, he is teased for reading, and has ambitions for a different life.  He is taken in by his town's mayor as a tudor and proceeds to make some questionable decision, like starting an affair with the mayor's wife.  There are times you are very angry at the main character, but as the book progresses you become more sympathetic, even as he commits a very surprising crime, because you see that the rules of the life he wants don't apply to him because he wasn't born into that life.....

I have to admit that reading these classics one right after another has been more challenging than I thought....it has slowed my reading down quite a bit.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Funniest Feud...

As you may have figured out by reading the blog, Bacall, my Basset Hound, is a pretty laid back character......

A walk in the afternoon instead of early evening, ok...
A neighborhood cat roams by the house while she is sitting on the porch, not a peep....
A dog walks by on a leash, she may saunter off the porch to go say hi, but nothing too obnoxious...
Bacall just rolls with life and accepts it as it is, she may give you a typical sad Basset look, but a few minutes later, she is back to her happy self...

There is, however, one MAJOR exception to her bliss.

Pete, the cat.

Pete is a beautiful white cat with blue eyes who lives one street north of us..
Friendly by all accounts...

But Pete does something a little differently than other cats,
he walks on a leash.

Yep, Pete the cat is a leashing walking cat.

AN ABOMINATION!!!  A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY!!!  ARROOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
Bacall is mortally offended by this fact...

The first time we saw Pete, it was pretty late at night and they were walking him in the street, apparently this gives them a little extra warning to get Pete to safety if a dog comes near.  Bacall saw them first and didn't leave the porch, but started barking up a storm.  It wasn't her intruder/danger bark, but something new.  I have learned that it is her 'I am offended bark'.  I was even a bit shocked to see a cat on a leash on a walk, so I talked to the owners and found out all about Pete and his love of going on walks...

After Pete and his crew continued on their way, Bacall didn't settle back down immediately, she grumbled for a good ten minutes.  If you have ever been around or owned a Basset, you know about the grumbling....  She was muttering her discontent with Pete...  I can just imagine the translation of it.  'Cats don't go on walks, it's a dog thing!!!'  'Meeko says cats don't do these things!'  'This is just wrong!'

Pete goes for his walks pretty late at night to avoid dogs, so we don't see him a lot, but every single time, Bacall lets them know she thinks it is soooooooo wrong.  A couple of nights ago, Pete and his peeps strolled on by.  They now know they can walk on our sidewalk and Bacall will not hurt them and I'll come out and talk.  This time they had a friend from out of town and her first comment to me was, "Why do I feel like I am being lectured by a Basset Hound?".  My response, "Cause you are...."  She knew immediately that it was not a dangerous bark but an indignant one.  She then went over and petted Bacall and just laughed at the whole situation.  I, however, did something that I had never done before.... I petted Pete, who by the way is a very, very soft cuddly cat.....

Let's just say, the indignant barks turned to a new subject...
Me.....

I am in the doghouse for petting Pete, the leash walking cat.

The joys of living with a Basset Hound.
(Any ideas of how to get out of the doghouse?_
Melissa

Thursday, July 21, 2016

10 Random Things...

My writing binge of June has faded away, and ideas have come in but not enough for a whole blog, so I decided to revive a 10 random things entry, so July doesn't fly by without at least one.

#1.  Holy Cats has it been a HOT HOT and DRY summer!  It rained for about 5 minutes the other day and I was excited as a kid at Christmas!

#2.  Ice Blocks are back in stores...  I searched and searched last summer when family was in town last summer to no avail, this year, as they were visiting again, I FOUND them!!  We were able to revive a summer time tradition of tempting fate and injury and ice blocking down the hill at Sugarhouse Park.


#3.  Did you know that at the Winter Olympic Park in Park City you can do extreme tubing?  You cruise down the ski jumping hills and can reach speeds of 50 mph...  Here's a little video.. and I did it!


#4.  Sometimes you need visitors to come to town to become a tourist in your own area again.  It's fun  to do the things that on the surface seem touristy...  My tip, don't wait until someone comes to town, get out and explore your area so you know the really fun stuff.

#5.  I've started knitting stuffed animals to giveaway.  I'm leaning towards donating them to 'The Teddy Bear Cops Program' which gives them to cops for them to give to kids in accidents and other stressful incidents.  I've got to check to see if SLC has a program set up, if not I may start one up....

#6.  My tv viewing has plummeted this summer and I haven't even missed it....  It's going to be interesting to see what happens in the fall.

#7.  I have joined the ranks of Red Butte Garden Volunteers...  I am a second generation volunteer as my Mom is a volunteer as well.  I have done one shift and had a wonderful time.  I can't wait to have more opportunities to get involved.

#8.  Miss Bacall's favorite summertime activity is hanging out on the porch, so it has been a lot of fun to talk to all my neighbors and dogs as they stroll past....

#9.  My health journey is an adventure....  I am recovering, not as fast as I would like, but I am recovering.  There have been a few hiccups, but no major setbacks.  The main thing that has come out of this whole thing, I LOVE my medical team.  They are a mixture of traditional and for lack of a better word non traditional approaches and they work together!

#10.  Don't go into shock, but I am still rolling forward on my New Year's Resolutions!!!  My pushups are almost there!  My bad habit just got another reason to stay away.  My book challenge is going nicely, and for the most part, I have enjoyed the books.  I've seen movies in theaters!  My food challenge is keeping me on my toes in the kitchen.  My daily walk has had some misses, but has started a wonderful routine that connects me to my neighborhood.  The Weird Holidays have been SO MUCH FUN!!!!  and I now have others giving me suggestions now!

I hope your summer is going well!

Melissa


Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Literary Discussion, Part Two..

It was a bit of hit and miss for my reading time this quarter, but I still managed to get some good books in....

Links to First Quarter and the Challenge List


#45.  Candide by Voltaire

Oh what a fun read!!!  A little over 100 page satire about suffering, it was a hilarious and quick read.  I knew nothing about it going in and couldn't of been more surprised and happy about this book.   Voltaire accomplished in such a short amount of pages something that I'm not sure that no one else could of, he left out all of the fluff and left only substance.

#18 . Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

One of the hardest challenges of reading books that are so well known and have adaptations of them is to let go and not try to put parts of a movie into a book, having said that, however, this short first entry into the Alice series was enjoyable and confusing, easy yet deep, fun and thought provoking.  I will be continuing on with Alice as soon as I have time.

#35 . Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Prepare to be uncomfortable, really uncomfortable, but just buckle down and read...Make it through the violence of the first chapter and take a breath and continue and read...Cringe at the cruelty both in your face and the more subtle but just as damaging cruelty of not seeing someone...Read on, and make it through this heartbreaking book about a man who becomes invisible due to the fact that society only sees one thing, the color of his skin.   This is probably a book that needs to be read more than once to truly appreciate everything in it, but I'm not sure I can read it again, but I'm glad I made it through once.

#32 . Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

When is an adventure book not just an adventure book?  When it's a top 50 book....then it becomes a satire on travel books (everything is perfect, even though we are stranded in a strange land), politics, society, education, and religion.  It's short but packs a lot in as Gulliver starts out as an idealistic travel and ends up a bit bitter and having little faith in people.

#33 . Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Absurd, yet entertaining...  This is either the most brilliant book I've ever read or the dumbest and I'm not sure I'll ever make up my mind about it.  There is a crazy cast of characters and a plot that takes a while to figure out and you are introduced to the origin of a phrase that I'm pretty sure that you've used before...Catch-22...

#21 . The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

My first thought about Holden Caulfield is that he is a spinning top reaching the end of its run and is wobbling trying to hang on.  You know it's all about to fall apart and even Holden is aware that sometimes he is a bit too much.  The book is a fascinating read of teenage angst and pain that made me react in two very distinct ways.. first, I was drawn back into my teenage years and struggling to find my way and I was right there with him, although my experiences were quite different from his....and then second, I wanted to look him in the eyes and tell him to for just a second breathe and realize it may not be as bad as it may seem...  This book has been loved and controversial since it was published, and I found that I am a fan of this coming of age story....

#23 . Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

War is Peace.  That line alone scares me the most, because it was written a long time ago, yet it is the phrase that is used over and over again to justify wars today.  War is the path to Peace.  No, not really.  Somehow peace isn't popping up after the bombs drop.  This book is just chilling because it show what happens when you just go with the status quo and follow like sheep.  Pay attention and speak up!  Horror flicks don't scare me, but books like this do....

#25 . To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Chaotic beauty describes the first 30 or so pages of a dense, yet never boring, 200 page novel.  It's a novel of detail of the mundane, yet never boring, lives that we live, and the unexpected consequences of losing someone.  I LOVED the beauty of the prose, it almost read like a poem and the celebration and understanding that life is truly lived in the little moments of life....

#36 . The Stranger by Albert Camus

What an utterly baffling book for me.....  The main character is both sympathetic and completely dislikable.  It's a weird balance of feeling sympathy and wanting him to be anything other than he is.  It's also a book about the meaning of life and finding peace where ever you might be and what ever your circumstances are, but the theme that is resonating for me the most is this, 'what happens when you don't react in a way that society expects?'  Are you judged and condemned for simply not following societal norms?  A short novel of less than 150 pages that packs a punch.

#6.  War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Well, I finished it... By the end, I felt like I was reading two separate books, one I really enjoyed and the other, I could not wait for it to be over.  Tolstoy said back in the day that he did not consider this a novel, and I agree with him.  There were aspects of a novel, but the other part was like a droll, boring history teacher....  Ironically, it's not a hard read, so don't let that intimidate you when you see that it has over 1300 pages.  I'm glad I read it, but doubt I'll read it again.

#28 . The Trial by Franz Kafka

What would you do if you were arrested for a crime, but never told what you are accused of?  What would you do if the people that are charging you with that crime are not a normal court, but have the power to destroy your life?  What would you do with the unrelenting pressure that goes along with all of this?  Would you give into paranoia?  All of this and more are brought into question into this dense novel.  I had always been a bit intimidated by Kafka, but found 'The Trial' to be deep and thought provoking, but readable.

#15 . Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

DID NOT FINISH...  I couldn't read this book.  I gave it 100 pages, but felt sick to my stomach as the narrator, Hubert Humphrey laid out his reasoning for finding a 14 year old girl sexually attractive.  .  ARE YOU FREAKIN' KIDDING ME?  Life is too short to feel like you need to take a shower after you read.  The ironic part in all of this, Nabokov's writing is amazing and I am going to find another of his books to read, but I can not stomach Lolita.

#1.  In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
       Swann's Way (book 1)

I had never heard of Proust or this book, so I am immensely grateful for this challenge for bringing it to my literary life.  I ADORE this book!  And the more French authors I read, the more I come to realization I love their writing style.  This is a subtle, slow moving novel about memories and time.  I cannot recommend it enough.  I cannot wait to continue this 7 part series of novels...


#29 . One Thousand and One Nights by India/Iran/Iraq/Egypt

I read it over the span of a month and really liked taking a tale or two a night.  I loved all the creative and smart women who outwitted arrogant, and sometimes mean, men.  I loved the learning that both the men and women did.  Fables and tales hold a great place in our history and it was fun to read ones from another part of the world.

It was an interesting 2nd quarter of reading.  I was introduced to authors I had never read before, books that challenged me, and once again, books that I fell in love with....

Still reading,
Melissa







Friday, June 10, 2016

Weedy Wisdom

There are a few trees in my yard that in the spring drops little seed pods.  In a normal year, a few of them sprout and I weed them out of the flower beds, however, this year, due to the cool temps and rain, it seemed like a couple million of them took hold.

seed pod weeds at the base of my roses

Every time I turned around there were more of them to pull.  It got a wee bit frustrating and all I could see in the garden were weeds.  I had lost sight of the big picture.....

the big picture, when weeds exist but aren't the focus....

Then it happened, quite unexpectedly,
a change in my thinking and attitude...

There is a HUGE lesson in weeds and weeding, for me at least.

You have to decide what is worth cultivating and taking care of,

Yarrow in the garden
and just as important,

you have to decide what to eliminate.....

another crazy weed

There is a gardening quote that goes a something like this, 'a weed is just a flower that you don't like', and sometimes it's just the location where it's growing that makes it a problem.  For example, I love mint, but always keep in a pot, so it doesn't strangle and take over everything in the area.  Lovely plant in a pot, but in the earth, I would treat it like a weed.

The little seed pod weeds would be appreciated if I needed more trees in my yard, but as I already have more trees than I know what to do with, they are a problem, so I need to take them out.

And here is the thing about weeds, if you don't dig down and get to the root of the problem, they are gonna come back and you'll be dealing with the exact same problem in a week or two.

Combine all the lessons above and that's how I realized that weeding has a bunch of stuff to teach me...

Sometimes to grow, you have to let go and get rid of the things you no longer need.....

Lamb's Ear on the parkway

Sometimes to thrive, you need to change locations so you will be appreciated....

Dianthus in the east bed

Sometimes you have to dig a bit deeper to get to the root of an issue, so it can finally be dealt with...

the elusive and precious Basset in bloom...

and the one I love the most, if you do a bit of work, you can see the results...



Learning from unexpected places,
Melissa


Monday, June 6, 2016

Taking Time....

Over the past couple of months, I have been trying to become more aware of things in my life that I had not been acknowledging or taking the time to notice and appreciate....

It's a bit like being a tourist in your own town, neighborhood, or even your own home and not taking for granted the things you see on a daily basis.  Living in the moment.....and acknowledging all that is in your life.

In my closet, I turned my hangers around until I wore the clothing item and then switched them.  The result, feeling like I had a whole new wardrobe, when in reality all I did was stop wearing the same clothes over and over again...

In the house, I went through items and rearranged and switched up the decor.  It seems like a new space and changed the energy, and once again no money spent...

Then there are the memberships, opportunities, parks, and the like that are in your area,  Red Butte Garden is one in mine and my amazing Mom volunteers once a week there, so it's not like it isn't on my radar on a regular basis.  As a benefit for volunteering, she has been given a membership to the garden that she has generously included my name on, so I have free admission.  Ask me how often I visit the garden......maybe once a year, if that.  Isn't that just sad?

In April, mom kept saying how beautiful the garden was and that we needed to go up and visit, and we actually did!  Wandering around and enjoying the spring blossoms made us both realize that we should visit more often just to appreciate the gardens, so we made a goal of visiting the garden once a month for a year and  sometimes you have to write it down and hold yourself accountable.  It seemed weird to write it down and make a goal to do something that you enjoy, but I hadn't been visiting, so maybe this will get a habit going.. The benefits of going to the garden are endless....time together, seeing the different plants in bloom, getting out in nature, having a nice walk, and I could go on forever, so it is worth making it a focus.

April Crab Apple Blossoms
I also took my camera, because I have been trying to take more photographs while at home, not just on vacation, so I did.  It was a pretty smart decision.....

An April bloom that was gone in May
As we made our second visit in May, something immediately came to our notice, the blossoms of April had given way to the blooms of May.  If we had not visited in April, we would of missed the crab apple, lilac (many different varieties, all of which made me sneeze) and all of the other wonderful things we saw.  I barely recognized the crab apple trees without their blossoms..


Life, as we all know, runs in cycles, but I don't know about you, but sometimes when you are in the thick of it, you do not always take the time to notice the little beauties that occur on a regular basis in our lives.  I think that is the reason that I am such a fan of gardening and nature is that the second you step into it or work in it, you are immediately reminded of the little things that you might of missed otherwise....even the weeds, there is a big lesson in weeds.  :)

May Chives in Bloom

Visiting more often with the intention of appreciation, I am noticing things that I never had noticed before.   I was drawn immediately to some beautiful purple blooms in the Herb garden and was SHOCKED when I saw they were chives.  I never knew they bloomed like that, I always cut them and use them before that happens.....

Two flowers growing side by side in harmony, yet completely different
What you see when you take time to sit on a bench next to the pond...
It's not just Red Butte that has me slowing down and taking time to notice, I've been doing it in my neighborhood as I amble with Bacall, my dog.  Flowers, squirrels, birds, trees, and yes, the neighborhood dogs have all caught my eye... And since I'm not appearing to be in such a rush, I've been talking to my neighbors more.  It snowballs and becomes something bigger without even really trying.  I love that....

I'll end it with this, a plant that grows in my front yard.  The beauty is right there everyday, all I have to do is look....

Everyday opportunity to see beauty....

Take some time to notice what's around you, or what you have purchased and never used, you might just be surprised at the results...

Taking time to smell the flowers...
Melissa











Saturday, June 4, 2016

National Hug Your Cat Day....

June 4, 2016 NATIONAL HUG YOUR CAT DAY!
When I saw this holiday on my list of odd/weird holidays, I knew I was going to celebrate it...
Meeko's opinion, however, was a bit different than mine....

First, I had to hunt up the lazy furball.  She was napping on the bench she has claimed as her own.
as I woke her up

My mere presence in front of her woke her up, a major crime in her book.  She was in the middle of her mid afternoon, pre meal nap and should not of been disturbed.

are you feeling the joy?
I informed her of my intention and the fact that it was National Hug Your Cat Day and how could I, as a responsible and loving owner, not partake...  She didn't care, and still said no...

Prepare for the hug, and the murder she will be committing tonight.

I continued on and picked her up and still her enthusiasm lagged, but then she cuddled for a brief moment before demanding to be freed from my love so she could continue with more important things...

Back to her nap...

like napping....

As for Bacall, she observed it all with her usual excitement level and is patiently waiting for National Hug Your Hound Day on September 13th...

Contain your excitement, Bacall....

Loving these fun holidays,
Melissa




Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Highway 12


There is an amazing highway here in Utah that is one of the most stunning roads that I have ever been on (not just my opinion, it is ranked as one of the top 10 drives in the country) and I just got back from a little trip that had me traversing it's entire length of 122.9 miles.   I had traveled a small section before, multiple times, but had never continued on. What a mistake!

I started on the south end, so I met Hwy12 from Hwy89 and a short time later was near Bryce Canyon National Park, one of my favorite parks!!!!.

It almost doesn't look real, does it?

Even the trees are calm, due to their yoga.  :)  It looks like warrior pose to me...
It almost looks like another world...

After leaving Bryce Canyon NP behind, it was time to continue on Hwy12 thru the little towns of Tropic, Cannonville, and the like til we reached our first day destination of Esclante, which is a gateway to the Grand Staircase National Monument.

The next day we drove the heart of the highway, which is an amazing feat of engineering and sheer determination in the last area mapped in the continental United States.

The road was carved into the rock
The rock almost looks like snow, doesn't it?

The thing that impressed me the most was the diversity of the scenery in such a small geological area: red rock, white rock, smooth, textured, it was all on display during this 60 mile section and when you looked for the river another aspect came into view...

Follow the river....the trees know where it is...

Even away from the river, life happens...

I love this desert wildflower.
So glad I'm able to visit places like this...

At every turnout, you just had to look and be in awe of this amazing planet and the slice I live near....

The road runs through Boulder, Utah and we stopped for a break and got an AMAZING tip to drive the Burr Trail.  So GLAD we did...
The beginning of a little slot canyon off the Trail

The echoes you could produce were insane

It always surprises me where trees can grow.
One of my favorite things about being out in nature is the silence and when I got out of the car and explored, it was there, and in that silence you start noticing the little things, like patterns in the red rock or a little nook tucked away...
Love this...

A porthole in the rock

We ended up not driving the whole trail, but if you did you would end up at Bullfrog on Lake Powell.  I think the next time I go down, I will.....

With scenery like this, I could drive forever

I love the diversity so close together...

It was time to leave the Burr Trail and Boulder behind and continue on to Torrey, home of Capitol Reef National Park.  I know that this has been a photo bonanza of a post, but I don't want to leave a section out....

First up, the animals of Capitol Reef...  A deer who posed for me

A very shy Marmot that was sooooo cute as he ran...

A bird that didn't want his face to be shown...

Capitol Reef NP is the smallest, youngest, and least visited National Park in Utah.  (How lucky am I to live in a state that has 5!!!!)  I even have a habit of skipping it, not being to it since I was a little kid.  I won't be neglecting it in the future!  It is beautiful and has a mixture of drives and hikes so I think it is easily accessed by anyone.

Ancient cliff drawings by the Fremont Indians

Twin Rocks

Amazing scenery as a storm rolled in...

A slot canyon for cars....

Overlooking the mesas of Capitol Reef

I was lucky enough to have perfect weather, low 70's and even the clouds worked for me for the photographs, and since I went before Memorial Day, the crowds weren't even out!  I will definitely be doing this adventure again, hiking trails I missed and roads not traveled....

And just another reminder, visit your National Parks!!!  But while you are there, respect them....
and just a little blog reading tip, if you want to see the photos larger, just click on them.
Melissa




















Saturday, May 7, 2016

Goiter Free in 2016

I'm betting you read the title and went 'Huh? What in the world is she talking about now?'.  I promise by the end this will all make sense and how iodine played a major role.

Yes, iodine...

It started with a simple statement in August of 'I just feel off....'  It wasn't even anything that I could put my finger on,  just something within me just kept saying something was not right, so I went to the doctor and they found nothing.  I chalked it up to everything that had been going on and vowed to take better care of myself and I did, but I never lost that 'off' feeling.

I won't go into all of the details, but let's just say there was a cycle of colds and flu's and each time my energy levels sunk to a new lower level of  normal.  I went to the doctor multiple times, but the cold or the flu got the attention and the treatments.

By the end of February, my energy levels were in the dump.  I felt like crap and was not in a good place health wise.

And then, it got worse....
they call it brain fog, but it's way worse than that...
I couldn't function.  I couldn't read (and if you know me at all, you know that was the straw that broke my emotional back).  For a couple of weeks, I didn't feel comfortable driving because I started feeling overwhelmed at all of the things I had to process at once, so I stopped driving.  I got rides to work, made friends drive when I went out, and then I stopped going out all together.....

Thankfully, a friend, around this time, suggested that I go to the doctor and beg them to run more comprehensive tests, especially the TSH, a test to check the individual thryoid hormone levels,  because it looked like I was going through what her sister had gone through...

I had to fight to get it done, but when the test came back all of my levels were messed up, dangerously messed up.    And it explained everything, all that I had been feeling for a long time, for you see, most thyroid issues don't happen overnight, it is a long slow decline, which is one of the reasons it takes so long to get a diagnosis....

Now here is the part, where I tell you some very frustrating news, for a lot of people, there isn't a definitive reason why their thyroid goes crazy.  There might be contributors, but one specific cause, not so much.  I have a family history, but that didn't guarantee that I would have issues, it just gave the doctors something to look into...  And it gets even more frustrating, treating the thyroid isn't a one size fits all treatment plan, it can take a long time to get the right medication, dosage, and health plan.  (If you really want me up on a soapbox, ask me about the #1 drug prescribed for thyroid issues).

My tale is a bit different, due to the fact that not only was my thyroid a mess, my entire endocrine system was in trouble and that got them doing a bit more investigating and research and asking me questions, and for that I consider myself very lucky.  A simple question of "Do you use salt?" and my response of "NEVER, I can't stand the stuff...." led to questions about the foods highest in iodine which resulted in an urine test which is the best option for testing iodine levels  and it showed that I had NO traceable amounts of iodine in my system which is very bad for the thyroid.

Iodine is ESSENTIAL for the thyroid to function properly, granted it's a delicate balance of if you have too much it can mess up the thyroid and if you have too little it can't function, but ESSENTIAL none the less.  I am in the small minority of not getting enough, and hence my goiter title because a goiter is the last symptom in low iodine levels.  Here is a LINK that has a list of iodine rich foods and what iodine does for you.  One thing to remember, your body can not produce iodine, so it HAS to come from your diet.  I ate some of the foods on the list, but not consistently enough to maintain my levels.

So, you see, my intuition was right, there was something wrong...
it just took a while to find it.

It's going to be a slow, steady upward climb to normal for my body, and it has to be done that way, because adding too much iodine back in my system at once can be as damaging as my low levels, but I already feel soooooooooooooooo much better.

I'm also thinking, now, that it may of been a good thing that I hit the rock bottom the way I did or they may of missed the iodine part of my problem, which was my key to solving my health issues.

So, why did I write this blog?  For one simple reason, these bodies that we live in are in a delicate balance and if something goes even a little off, it can have dramatic effects.  You are your best indicator when something is wrong.  Trust your gut, intuition, or whatever you may call it and if you have learned not to listen to it, start trusting it again.  Relearn to listen.  Your quality of life depends on it.

Now comes the part, where I remind you about the whole balance thing, do not panic and start self diagnosing and treatment planning, so do not just add an iodine supplement without your doctor's knowledge.  If you feel like this is an issue, start a dialogue with your medical professionals!  I have a very specific plan put in place by my doctors, nutritionist, and myself (cause I'm the one who has to do it) to build my iodine levels.  Be smart and find your balance of advocating for your health and trusting your medical team (whether traditional Western medicine or holistic or a combination, which is what I use).

I hope you never have to travel down this road, or any health crisis road, but if you are struggling, I hereby offer my hand, advice and encouragement to hang in there, because as I have learned your health is nothing to take for granted....

Healing...
Melissa

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Foodie Adventures...

I figured since I gave updates about my reading challenge that I would do it as well for my 2016 Food Challenge as well....  Here is a link to the Full Challenge

2.  Learn a new cooking technique.

     I made Baked Alaska in February for Baked Alaska Day, February 1st if you were wondering.  It was adventure!  The new technique came with the meringue that would be topping the dessert.  This is what I learned, sometimes the right tool can make all the difference!  I had two batches of mini Baked Alaskans and with the first one I used a hand mixer to whip up the heated egg whites and sugar.  I mixed and mixed and mixed and finally got it to what I thought was the right consistency and applied it to the ice cream and cake.  When they came out of the oven, they looked like bunny slopes, not mountain peaks......  Round two, I figured out a way to heat up the egg whites and sugar in my bowl of my kitchen aid mixer and then used the whisk attachment and whipped up the meringue in no time flat and when they came out of the oven, mountain peaks!!!!  If you want a more details and photos, here's MORE

3.  Go meatless on Monday for a month.

     In January, I made a point of eating more vegetarian meals, not just going meatless on Mondays, but at least 2 other times a week as well.   I continued this in February, March, and April...

40. Do a pantry clean out challenge.  (Don't buy anything except fresh veggies for a month)

      The month of February was when I tackled this and will do this once a year...  Details about it are here....

19. Learn how to sharpen a knife.
24. Learn a new French knife skill.

       On March 9th, I took a Knife Skills class at Harmon's, who knew they had a cooking school, but they do and it's AMAZING!  I learned how to sharpen knives and a whole lot of other great tips.  It turns out that the way I had been holding my knife was not the safest and the difference in the grip while cutting is huge!  I got a new knife out of the class, plus I got to take all of the veggies I had chopped up while learning home....  A great experience.

1.   Clean out and reorganize your fridge.

      This has been  on going and was also partnered with my Pantry challenge.  I found I had 7 different bottles of salad dressing in my fridge.  One of them had solidified....  I now have one and am working on eliminating that one by finding a homemade version I love.  I used up items and really thought about my preferences and tastes.  The best part about it, I know exactly where everything is in my fridge at the moment...

7.  Slow cook something.

     Even though I do not eat a lot of meat, I still find on holidays that I go with the traditional meal, which is generally founded on meat.  St. Patrick's Day with its corned beef and cabbage is no different and I make mine in the crock pot.  Throw it all in the morning and 8 hours later, dinner!  That is why I love slow cookers and use them often!  And if you are a vegetarian, don't feel left out, there are a ton of cookbooks for slow cooking vegetarian.

41.  Master pie crusts

     I made a HUGE step forward in this on pi day, March 14th, when my crust turned out both delicate and flaky!  It was a big improvement from my last attempt.  I found a recipe on Pinterest, of course, that walked me through the consistency part (how much water to add so you have enough to hold it together and not crack, but not so wet that it gets tough).  The other thing that I did was a 1/2 ratio of cold water and cold Vodka.  The vodka keeps gluten from going berserk when beginner crust makers like myself work dough.  I'll make another one this year and see if it holds, but this just makes me happy!

31. Create a well-stocked pantry.

     My pantry challenge made me realize what I want and need in my well-stocked pantry.  This was an eye opener, but now I can make multiple dinners with items I keep on hand.
 
15. Cook dinner at home at least three nights a week for a month

     I view going out to dinner as an event or gathering with friends, so on a daily basis, I cook and eat at home, so this really is not much of a challenge for me.  I achieved this in January, February, March and April and will probably achieve it all the rest of the months of the year.


16. Make perfectly poached eggs.

      Eggs Benedict, here I come....April 16th was Eggs Benedict Day, so that's what I had for dinner and poached eggs are necessary to that meal.  I can't say they were perfect, but they were pretty well formed and were cooked to the right consistency.  :)  Tip of the day...don't crowd the pan, do them in batches...


25. Pack your own lunch for a week.
35. Follow a recipe to the T without making any changes.
47. A salad for dinner at least once a week

     I won't go into details on these as it would be a bit boring, but they were done.

14. Deep-fry something

      This is something that I do not do often, but I have frozen mozzarella steaks in my freezer that I made that need to be fried, so viola, I deep fried something.  It's a quick easy meal that I pare with a salad.

36. Grow something.

    My early garden is in with peas, carrots, lettuce, radishes, kale, and broccoli thriving, and with May here, my other veggies will be going in

This has been an interesting adventure that has made me think more about the food I buy and prepare.  I still have quite a few to go but if you are looking to mix up your eating and food routines, try a food challenge....

Still cooking,
Melissa








Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Sentinels of Spring

They come in many shapes and colors,
yet all are beautiful.



They arrive in a rush and some only last a few days,
while others linger for a while.


They push up through the ground
or
unfurl from the trees.



They follow no time but their own...




They are the Sentinels of Spring and their job is to let you know that a new cycle of growth is here,


and if you have time and take a closer look...


You won't be disappointed....

Admiring the change of season,
Melissa

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Literary Discussion, Part One...

As I approached my book challenge this year and chose the classics, I knew that I would be reading some pretty heavy books, however, the benefit of doing this for fun is that I don't have to analyze the books to death, unless I want to, and can just read and enjoy or survive the books.   This year I thought I would also include in these posts books that are not on the list that I read for my book club or just for fun.....

Here we go again!

--Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

I am not going to lie, the first 200 hundred pages were so slow and hard to read that I really did not think I would finish my book club's selection, and then something happened that I can't really explain and  I inhaled the remaining 600 pages, yes it's a long one.  A story based in history with magic woven in as if it was real.  Two magicians battle egos, misconceptions and politics in this engaging book.  Characters grow, plotlines are taken to completion and the footnotes are just really fun.

#12 . One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

What a crazy, wonderful book!!  It mixes magic and tradition with tragedy and change.  What happens if generation after generation keeps making the same mistake?  If we never learn from the mistakes of the past?   I am surprised how much I ended up enjoying this book and when I have time will read others by this author.

--The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I finally jumped on the bandwagon and read this book and now I can't say that I'm happy that I did.  The paradox of it is this, by page 20 I knew I would dislike and loathe most if not all of the characters by the end and I KEPT READING.  It is well written, for the style, but I am going to be very happy when the 'Gone Girl' replicas and homages are done.....

#24.  Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

After I finished this novella of about 120 pages, I did something I normally do not do and searched the internet for information about it.  I understood the allegory of it, but I wanted to see why critics loved it so much when I couldn't wait for it to be over......and then I found the piece of information that made me go 'aha!'and it was this, one of the more famous adaptations based on it is the movie 'Apocalypse Now' that I have suffered through as a part of my top 100 movie bucket list adventure. I can now say I read it and never have to again.

#3.  Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Have you ever lost yourself in a book?  I do, all the time.  I lose time and I leave my reality and live in the characters' world, but what happens if when you emerge back into your life, your sense of reality is changed?  For Don Quixote, the allure of romantic knight tales becomes real and he begins his quest of becoming a Knight and to be honest it doesn't really go that well.   His vision that allows him to see the best in things, like a castle instead of a ramshackle old inn, also causes grief when he sees dangers in things that are innocent.  The other characters also cause troubles by playing jokes on Don Quixote and Sancho, and for that reason the following line from the book sums it up the best.... 'For jests that cause pain are not jests, and entertainments are not worthwhile if they injure another.'

A fool can be wise; a wise man can be a fool; a simpleton can have the best answer for a complex problem; and an expert can cause all sorts of trouble, so go deeper and find out the truth of what is being presented...

--H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Three books in one?  How in the world will this ever work?  Just trust me when I say that just does.  Part book about grief, part hawk training adventure, and part biography of author T.H. White rolled into one.   I know nothing about hawks, but was thoroughly intrigued about the goshawk that Helen trains.  I knew little about T.H. White, but was immediately drawn in to his life.  I've been through grief and know that it's a deeply personal process and was surprised how deep she was willing to share.  I inhaled this book and can not recommend it enough..

#14.  The Iliad by Homer

Throw in a family that does not put the fun in 'dysfunctional' (Zeus and Hera, euwwww) with
men at war who trash talk and sulk like moody teenagers (with Achilles leading that list) and add a dash of blood and gore (splattering brains and pierced organs with spears)

and you have the Iliad....

A classic poem that may or may not of been written by Homer that may or may not of been based on actual events.

It was more interesting to read than I had thought it would be and I found that it ended up mocking the glory of war it set out to portray.  The Gods, Kings, and Commanders of the rank and file come of as petulant, whiny, and stubborn when innocent lives are on the line....  The rank and file as they are listed off are honest men who were called to arms by their leaders.

#8.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This book starts out as fluff....the roaring twenties, youth, and parties, but by the end it turns into a deep and thoughtful examination of the way we treat others and judge their actions and what is acceptable within society.  Extraordinary writing!!!

#7.  The Odyssey by Homer

aka  The Iliad, the attempt to return home.....  Every time Odysseus is mentioned in the Iliad, the phrase 'A Brilliant Tactician' or the like is used, but on the way home from war, the phrase did not apply.  Follow him into war, yes....  Go on a road trip, can't recommend as he is the only one to make it home, everyone that left with him from the war, DIED...

Characters from the Iliad pop up through out this tale of woe and struggle.  My personal favorites, Helen's 'my Bad for starting a war' dialogue and the I don't want to be dead group in the underworld.   We are also introduced to Odysseus's long suffering wife, Penelope, who has a group of suitors to deal with, and his son who just can't wait to be king (sorry couldn't help myself) but really just needs some answers about his Dad...

I didn't love this, but I didn't hate it either....  I won't be reading it again, but I will recommend it to read as an experience...


#17 . Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

This is not a read in one evening book....  It forced me to slow down my reading by A LOT, by that I mean I read a chapter a night if that.  It is a book that makes you think and ponder and challenges your perceptions.  It was definitely not an easy read, but by the end I came to appreciate it.

#44.  Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

I read about a poem a night over the span of a couple of months.  Some resonated, others not so much, and some I could see where the controversy came from back in the day....

#37.  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

I wasn't expecting to like this book as much as I did, but this is once again why I do these types of challenges, to discover books that I may not of read otherwise.  A cautionary tale of being careful of what you wish for and what you turn your back on, but what stuck with me the most is that your experience can harmfully impact another if you choose to believe that is the only possibility...

As this first quarter comes to a close, I have to admit that reading all of these heavy, dense, thinking novels is a little taxing at times and I have taken breaks and read 'fluff' books just to not have to think or pay attention to the plot.....

Still with my nose in a book,
Melissa




Thursday, March 17, 2016

The State I'm in....


A couple of weeks ago, I took a 24 hour pause from my life.....
I prepared and took care of my responsibilities before I left, but in essence, I ran away from home.

I knew that I wouldn't be gone long, so I did not want to spend my entire time driving to and from wherever I chose, so I decided to head north from Salt Lake City and ended up in Box Elder County.

The drive up took less than an hour!  Wahoo, so now it was time to play...

First, a visit to the Golden Spike National Monument.  

It was interesting, but since I was visiting in the off season, the trains were not out.  :(  I was very surprised that the Golden Spike was only in the ground for 15 minutes before they took it out.  There is, however, a plaque at the location.   I learned a lot about the building of the railroads and how hard it was to do.

The Plaque on the tracks...

the way of the tracks...


On the drive to Golden Spike, I saw a sign for the Spiral Jetty, so I asked the Park Ranger if my little car could make the trip on the dirt roads and he said yes, so off I went.  It's about a 12 mile drive on grated roads through open range land, with some opinionated cows....I got glared at when I took their pictures..


See the attitude...

The Spiral Jetty is an earthwork sculpture at the edge of the Great Salt Lake that was constructed in April of 1970.  I alway thought it was on the West side of the lake, but it's not....it's on the northeastern side, the things you learn when you travel.  I expected it to be a nice drive out and 'Ya' I finally saw it, but it turned into one of the highlights of my adventure.  For one thing, it is just really pretty and it doesn't smell.... (if you live in SLC or the Wasatch front, you know all about lake stink). I walked out to the edge of the Great Salt Lake, which was at least 1/2 mile out on the salt.  It was that kind of silent you can only get in nature.  Bliss...

The Spiral Jetty

a little spiral in the big one...

The Great Salt Lake with ripples in the water

a really cool formation in the salt on the shore


My next stop was the Bear River Bird Refuge.  I heard a lot of birds, but didn't see any, but that was ok, I was all about taking pictures of the sunset and the reflections in the water.....
It was a little overcast, so it was a little dreary

and subdued for a sunset

but still stunning and peaceful

Now it was time for the reason I chose this area, Crystal Hot Springs in Honeyville...  Soaking in the hot springs while it is cold outside, can it get any better?  As I checked in, I learned that Crystal Hot Springs has the highest mineral concentration of any hot spring in the world.  Way to go Utah!

I slept in a bit the next morning and as I drove home I realized a couple of things....

I live in an amazing state for scenery and diversity of the scenery.
I am lucky enough to be able to visit these areas without a long drive.
24 hours away can do wonders for your state of mind...

Utah,
the state I'm in...
Melissa