Saturday, December 31, 2011

as of late

This poor, neglected blog.  I begin to feel the longing to write again, a gentle tug pulling me back into the world of writing.  Hopefully I still remember how to write, how to capture the moments and feelings that are so dear to me, even if they flit in and out of my mind so quickly and grasping them to put on paper almost seems an exercise in futility.

After dropping Caroline off at her friend's this evening and making my way back to Wasatch, I was greeted by one of our breathtaking sunsets . . . the entire eastern sky above Mt. Olympus was painted pink and the western sky blazed of winter rose and orange.  It was simply stunning, and true to form, I suddenly stopped the car in the middle of the street (making sure no one was behind me) and jumped out and took a picture with my phone, obviously not capturing the scenery as lovely as I saw it, but nonetheless a moment I needed to keep because it made me write again:

This evening's sunset reminded me of the brilliant "winter wonderland" I stumbled across a few weeks ago as Liza and I were heading up Big Cottonwood early on a Saturday morning for ski team.  As we approached the meadow just east of the Spruces we were greeted by a scene like no other . . . the trees, the ground, and every branch on every bush glistened in the morning sun like crystal.  It was simply one of the most beautiful sites I'd ever seen, so of course, I stopped and took another phone picture:

Here are another couple phone pics from the last week.  I suppose I take these pics when I'm at my happiest, when mother nature gives me an unexpected surprise, a gift, to remind me that life is good . . . all you have to do is take a moment and look around:
 getting out of the smog and taking the kids and friends sledding in BC
getting myself out of the inversion for a hike up and around the reservoir
Happy New Year's Eve!!  Who knew we'd be playing tennis outside on December 31st . . . while the big kids don't mind hitting the slopes, the little girls and Lucy thought it would be more fun to go to the park :-).

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things:  a rainy day, lost luggage, 
and tangled Christmas tree lights."

-Maya Angelou-

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


"Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, 
places to play in and pray in, where nature 
may heal and cheer and give strength 
to the body and soul alike . . ."
John Muir

 Giant sequoias in Mariposa Grove
 1800 yr. old "Grizzly Giant"
 Yosemite Valley - beautiful morning for a hike . . .
off we go . . . straight up from the valley floor 3.8 miles/3300 ft. elevation gain

on our way to to the top of these granite walls

 getting closer
LOVED these trees 
we made it- time to SIT!
 aahhh, yes - taking in the views while eating lunch!
Minor freak-out from Chris as I walked out on this rock . . .
 this is as close to the edge as Chris would venture
 The river right before it heads over the cliff

 Yosemite Point - unbelievable, majestic, breathtaking - best views in the park!
 heading back down - the sun reflecting on Half Dome
 El Capitan . . . next trip we'll hike to the top and watch the rock climbers summit!

I don't think I'll ever be able to aptly express how I feel about Yosemite.  Obviously, I haven't visited all the national parks our country has to offer, but out of the parks I have been to, Yosemite is and probably always will be my favorite.  There is a spirit here that touches my spirit and rejuvenates my soul.  The place seems to me a living, breathing entity, which, like a person is constantly changing as the day progresses from early dawn, to bright afternoon, to dusk, to blackest of night.  We were privileged this trip to not only hike to the top of the tallest waterfall in North America, but descend by a full moon (thank goodness just the last 1/3 mile) and then witness that moon rise over half dome from the meadow and light up the impressive, towering granite face of El Capitan.  I will NEVER forget the view of Yosemite valley that night from "tunnel view" as we were departing the park and heading back to our hotel . . .

and hope to return to see it again.

Monday, December 5, 2011

this christmas . . .

This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child.
Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. 
Speak your love and then speak it again.

President Howard W. Hunter

Sunday, November 27, 2011

back to october

I just realized there are three different posts that I *thought* about writing, but never got around to making it happen.  So, before the holiday season becomes too crazy and my memories fade, I'm attempting to catch up on some noteworthy events . . . namely Halloween, our NYC/Boston trip, and Yosemite.

I'll begin with Halloween festivities:

Sophie and friend Gracie as "Hansel and Gretel" for the 5th grade "Fairy Tales on Parade"
  Liza and her friend Gracie as "Mario and Luigi"
 A card from Alice in Wonderland, Hansel, and Gretel
 Halloween piano recital - Sophie decided to dress up as Gretel (gotta love past dance recital costumes)
Liza's very first piano recital (in the 2nd costume choice of the season)
 Nicely done girls
 Halloween Night - Sophie and friend Emily as M&M's
Caroline and friend Maddie - pirate and a gypsy
 Neighborhood street party!
 Mario and Luigi ready to start trick or treating
My favorite costume of the evening by Isaac and Megan - MINIONS!!
 oh, how I love Halloween night . . .
 all finished - exhausted, but happy (what would we do without the Osterloh family??!)

HaPpY HaLLoWeeN ~ 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

so blessed

"Gratitude is a Spirit‑filled principle. It opens our minds to a universe permeated with the richness of a living God. Through it, we become spiritually aware of the wonder of the smallest things, which gladden our hearts with their messages of God's love. This grateful awareness heightens our sensitivity to divine direction. When we communicate gratitude, we can be filled with the Spirit and connected to those around us and the Lord. 
Gratitude inspires happiness and carries divine influence."
~ Bonnie Parkin ~

Friday, November 18, 2011

once in a lifetime . . . Jackson Browne

Last weekend I experienced one of those rare, but oh so pure, mesmerizing, "if you breathe you'll break the spell" moments.  A moment that I want to remember for the rest of my life, because it was so fleeting, so real, so beautiful that I really don't expect it to ever happen again.

I know, you're probably thinking my ramblings will continue down the familiar path destined to arrive at a moment when nature spoke to me.  Not so this time, I'll spare you another "Julie loves nature" post for now (that will be included in the upcoming "Yosemite is the most spiritual place on earth" post - just a warning ;-).

I'm talking about spending two magical evenings in nostalgic, tiny, lost in time California towns sitting in small theaters with unbelievable acoustics listening to Jackson Browne work his magic.  It was like we were invited into his own living room for a private, intimate concert.  It's a wonderful sight to see a small stage laden only with a row of guitars, a chair and table, and a piano.

In my eyes, Jackson Browne's music and lyrics transcend the human condition.  It's not just his rich, full, emotionally charged voice that touches my soul, but his sublime understanding of humanity, of love and longing, happiness, laughter, sorrow, peace, and the troubled heart.  I was moved to tears more than once, especially during Saturday evening's concert in Hanford, CA when Jackson became emotional himself and struggled for a moment to compose himself during a few songs ("Late for the Sky," "The Pretender," and "Enough of the Night" - the song written about his sister, who incidentally had passed away last year).

The highlight during the 3 hours happened as we were yelling out our favorite songs and someone asked to hear HIS favorite song . . . .  Jackson then treated us to a beautiful song written by Leonard Cohen, "A Thousand Kisses Deep," which he sang with such raw emotion the audience was spellbound - to be granted entrance to a personal moment like that of someone you've admired for years, was captivating.   To me, this concert almost felt like a "swan song" of sorts, and I'm not sure if I really want to see him perform again because nothing will compare with the beauty of this night.

Chris was just as taken in, if not more, than I was.  I think the best part of the experience for him was having a conversation with Jackson after Friday evening's show about how great it was to hear one of his more obscure songs, "Linda Paloma" from The Pretender (1976), and how amazed we were that he could just pull it out of his hat and play/sing it so beautifully.  During Saturday's performance, Jackson shared with the audience his conversation with Chris and then proceeded to play the song once again for the Hanford crowd.

yep, once in a lifetime.

 It doesn't get any better than this
 Turlock Community Theater (yes, it was that small)
 Chatting with Jackson after the show 
 My new friend Catherine asking to get an autograph on her albums - 
I love how you can see his picture from "Late For the Sky"
Yes, I got emotional
 Saturday night's concert
Thanks Jackson for two unbelievable nights 

After the show inside the Hanford Fox (est. 1934) - we loved the vintage/nostalgic lobby and theater
 My first attempt - the flash didn't go off - had to try again . . .
Chris and his hero

It's such a clever innocence with which you do your sorcery
As if somehow the years just bow and let that young girl go free
I thought I was a child until you turned and smiled
I thought I knew where I was going until I heard your laughter flowing
And came upon the wisdom in your eyes . . .

("I Thought I was a Child" - J. Browne)