Friday, December 19, 2008

It's Beginning to Feel Alot Like Christmas

It must be getting close to Christmas. “How can I tell?” you ask. Well there are a few things that happen every Christmas season. First, I get the urge to buy a new Mercedes, wrap a big red bow around it, and park it in my driveway. Second, even though I have seldom used an electric razor, I start to feel inadequate in the shaving department with my triple-blade cheapie. The third symptom of Christmas is the yearning somewhere in the back of my consciousness for a Chia “something.” It doesn’t really matter which shape or form, I feel the need to grow green things around various troll-like shapes.

I was watching an ad for a diamond store, where they were boasting about their big 25% off everything sale. I happened to be close enough to read the small print that stated “No actual sales may have occurred at the full pre-sale prices.” Nice. They offer 25% off of something that has been marked up 1,000% in the first place, and the discount is fake to begin with. ‘tis the season, eh?

While I am rambling on about it, what is with the ads that started two weeks ago to lure us in for some last minute shopping. Last minute? I haven’t even started, and they want me to wrap it up. You hear claims about how their year will be ruined if the Christmas (holiday) season doesn’t improve. I am still trying to figure out why I should care.

I’m not bitter. In fact, I am having a great time experiencing Christmas with a three year old. It’s great. We watch many of the great Christmas movies together: The Bishop’s Wife (original only, please), Polar Express, Scrooged (“This is one Santa who is going out the front door”), and everybody’s favorite Santa Conquers the Martians (Crow and Tom Servo did this one up right!).

We put the tree up right after Thanksgiving, and Denny has the house decorated up very nicely, so the season has been very lovely this year, despite the constant attempts of Madison Avenue to mess with it. Emma is so fun and excited. I hope you all have as nice a Christmas as we are having, as Andy says, “Keeping it real.” Ok then.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Smile! (or not...)

Last year we took some really great Christmas pictures of Emma. She was giggling delightfully, with a sparkle in her eye, in each one. This year we tried to recreate the magic. Got a cute black and red velvet outfit, curled the hair, put a bow in. And here is a sample of the results.

Ah well. She's still our cutie patootie.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Go Find a Big Book....

We haven't taken many pictures lately, and I don't have much interesting to report. We've all been kind of sick the last week with various combinations of upper respiratory and lower GI ailments. But in the interest of posting something new, I'm stealing an idea from the blog Seriously, so blessed. Here's what we do:

1. Pick up the nearest book of at least 123 pages. Don't pick the coolest or most impressive one, just the NEAREST one.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence and post it!

So the nearest book at hand is the authorized biography of Hugh Nibley (by Boyd J. Petersen). Page 123, 5th sentence, reads:

"As he wrote to a friend who was going through marital problems, 'Common ground does not exist' between the two worlds." (He's referring to the credo that one must live "in the world but not of the world.")

So...what's in YOUR nearby book?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

7 Thangs

I was tagged by two people recently (Peggy and Julia) to reveal seven things about myself.

1. I have nachos almost every Sunday after the block.

2. After Emma came home we watched a lot of "Signing Time" videos and I learned the sign language alphabet from the DVDs. I now compulsively finger spell words the way I used to type on my knees when I was taking typing from Guy Hafer at La Grande High School.

3. I enjoy folding laundry.

4. Sometimes when I'm practicing a piece of music that I have to perform I pretend I'm in the Music Olympics and imagine color commentators speculating on my chances for success ("Do you think she can navigate this tricky key change coming up? This is where the young Bulgarian upstart crashed and burned.") It manages to make me a little bit nervous.

5. I don't really like pretzels. I've tried to.

6. Garrison Keillor's column is the first thing I read in the Sunday Tribune, followed by Parade Magazine and the obits. The comics aren't funny. (Do you EVER laugh at a comic? Do you ever even SMILE at a comic?)

7. I can't whistle very well, which has always made me a little sad.

I tag BARBIE to write 7 things about herself in my comments section...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Heart the Book of Mormon

I have to write about this before more time slips away. My niece Julia challenged our family to read the Book of Mormon during the month of October. I’ve only read the Book of Mormon fast one other time, when the stake Relief Society invited us to read it in preparation for a women’s conference (I remember I taught a mini-class on the Gadianton Robbers, of all things; they’re really a fascinating bunch).

Most of the time when I read the Book of Mormon, I plug along just above stall speed. I try to read a chapter a day, but then I skip a few days and have to go back and read the heading of the last chapter to figure out what was going on “when we last left our hero.” (Reminds me of something Marjorie Hinckley wrote in a letter to one of her children: “I’m reading one chapter out of each of the standard works every day. I’ve been doing it for four days now and am only three days behind.”) I plod through the Isaiah chapters and the war chapters and look forward to 3rd Nephi, and then I whiz through 4th Nephi, Mormon, Ether and on to the (bitter if you’re a Nephite) end.

This time around I skipped chapter headings entirely and read 17-18 pages a day. Things made much more sense. That section where we backtrack in time (the Record of Zeniff) wasn’t as confusing as it usually is. “Okay. Limhi was the son of King Noah, who was the son of Zeniff, who left Zarahemla and went to the land of Nephi. Zeniff—good; Noah—BAAAD; Limhi—good. Alma—VERY good. And then everybody eventually winds up back in Zarahemla again.” I even got caught up in the war accounts, and I have even greater admiration for Captain Moroni, a passionate, skilled leader and not just some zealous flag-waver.

And I have a new love for Mormon himself, who pawed through piles of records to get just the right distillation of history and doctrine. What an enormous undertaking. How just plain smart he must have been (I love what Ammaron tells Mormon when he’s only a kid: “I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe.”)

But beyond all the history, the urgency of the message was so fresh this time. During a fast read-through the major themes just keep getting hammered and hammered:

1. Keep the commandments.
2. If you keep the commandments, you’ll prosper (in all the ways that matter most).
3. This is a unique land with a unique purpose.
4. Jesus Christ will come to earth (and after 3rd Nephi, will return to earth).
5. Keep the commandments.

Oh yeah, and ix-nay on the costly apparel and fine-twined linens.

What a book. I love it. Nay, I lurve it. Thanks, Julia, for the challenge!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Recent Autumnal Goings-On

Following is pictorial evidence of recent fall events, beginning with a trip to the Scarecrow Festival at Thanksgiving Point a couple weeks ago. The Scarecrow (see 'em below) Festival is something I'd never heard of, and likely would never have attended, pre-Emma. But oh, how our middle-aged horizons are espanding these days. Emma made a pilgrimage to every bouncy house and towering blow-up slide she could haul her wiry little frame in, on, or around. She was glassy-eyed with glee. At one point she broke into a trot and made a complete loop around the scarecrow grounds, through the food pavilion, and back to the bouncy houses as I tried to keep a bead on her, gimping along at half-speed on my not-yet-jog-worthy hip. I finally caught sight of her little top knot as she whizzed down a slide on the lap of a complete stranger (she looked like a very nice woman, at least). I think she needs a leash.
Here she is in mid-bounce. Might have been moments before she conked heads with another young bouncing patron. Emma shook it off and moved on with little complaint.
On October 30th, we celebrated our 2nd annual Emma Day...or maybe the 2nd anniversary of the first and original Emma Day, which was the day we met her in 2006. Joe took some time off work and we drove down to Provo to deliver a package to a guy (who's a friend of a guy who's a friend of Joe's) who can make same-day deliveries to the MTC. I made a batch of chocolate chip oatmeal bars in the morning and thought maybe they could be delivered to nephew Russell at the MTC while they were still warm and he could be the envy of his district. Oh what a gorgeous autumn day it was -- such brilliant fall colors, blue sky, and rarified Utah Valley air (I have a soft spot for dear, odd Provo). After the drop-off we went to a pretty park on Center Street. They had a representation of the countries of the world and we told Emma to stand on (approximately) Hubei Province, the land of her birth. Then we had yummy Chinese lunch at a little mom-and-pop in Orem (egg roll appetizers, rice bowl, and sauteed vegetable lunch special).

So then we had the one-two punch of Emma Day followed by Halloween. On Halloween morning Emma visited a couple of work places (Joe's and Aunt Boo Boo's), where she went cubicle to cubicle and completely filled up her candy bucket before noon. She met our friend Monica (below) at one of the stop-offs. I think Emma looks about 25 in this picture. Like a 25-year-old who needs to wipe the remains of a fun-size Twix bar off her mouth before she puts her lip gloss on.

At Aunt Boo Boo's office she joined up with a bunch of other kids (children of employees and hangers-on like us). Sure, they look a little morose here, but this was taken before they hit major Halloween candy pay-dirt.
I liked this little golfer guy.
This is what our neighbor's flowering pear tree looked like on Halloween Day.
Look at all the different colors (you must click to enlarge).
Emma lounged around in the leaves in the afternoon, pondering a portion of the haul she'd made that morning. "Oh what should I have first...a Skittle? A gem-sized Baby Ruth? One of the 500 teeny Snickers bars I snagged?"
And THIS is what Emma lounged around in today. The beautiful fall days are evidently gone for now, but they lasted a good long time.
And now we get to make a snowman that looks kind of like a little bear, and decorate him with twigs and a lei and last-year's snow hat and leaves and chocolate chips. "A triumph!!"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wide Butt, Thin Tires

It’s about a 12 to 14 mile round trip from the casa to work. I got the wild idea to fix up the old circa 1980 Miyata 10-speed and ride it to work sometime last June. I thought I would have more problems than I did, but I guess it’s true -- riding a bike is like, well, riding a bike. It had been a few years since I strapped one on, but it only took a few days for the initial aches to subside and swelling to go down. I was also spurred on by the total lack of empathy on the part of our good Arab and Venezuelan friends when it came to the price of a gallon of gasoline.

It is interesting to catch the smells of various areas of the city as you ride by. You don’t get that added bonus when you're driving. I like to get an early start, avoiding most if not all of the traffic. You pretty much have total control of the road at 4:30 AM. Well, me and every newspaper carrier in the valley. Anyway, back to the smells. There is the smell of the Great Harvest Bakery. That’s a nice smell (must…keep… pedaling). It seems there is always somebody up early brewing coffee and burning toast. You get this mostly in the summer when their windows are open. There is one neighborhood, however, where many mornings you catch a whiff of burning cannibus (hippie lettuce, Mary Jane, or as Jim Rome would say, “The chronic”). I’m not sure where I learned how to detect that smell, I think it was the first rock concert I ever went to at the Salt Palace. I was about 14 years old, and Santana opened for Crosby, Stills and Nash, but I digress.

There is something to be said for motivating under your own power under the light of a Summer’s full moon. The brakes on the old Miyata don’t work so good, but that is ok. I think the ride is uphill both ways, so brakes aren’t much of an issue. There aren’t any surprises because everybody knows I am headed their way because of the excessive wheezing.

The ride back is a different story. This takes place any time from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Rush hour traffic and all. Most afternoons I take advantage of the Trax train from 600 East to 1400 East. It shaves about one mile from the total, and is a nice option when the temps are hovering in the mid 90’s. You could track my progress home by the circling buzzards.

I have noticed there are many bikes around the city. Maybe because now that I ride, I am more aware of other riders. I wonder how many people are laughing at me because of my skid lid. It's about as old as my bike, and I probably look like what the Danish call “ond svaeg”(mind weak). Styling was never my strong suit (see previous post).

I probably won’t ride too much more this year. It’s pretty and all, and the temps are great, but that can turn on you in a hurry. Baseball season is officially over until March. It also makes it hard to take coworkers to the Maverick for a quick break. Hard to steer with a 44 oz. Diet Coke and a Church employee on the handlebars. Ok then.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Reflections on a Haircut

The Clip Joint Du Jour

This used to be the $1 Shop
Good Ol' Rays

“How you want it cut?” she asked in my left ear. “Oh, go ahead and cut it so that I’m the only person on earth who can’t see the bare spot on top of my head is edging ever outward.” I had once again stumbled into another in a long line of haircutting establishments I have frequented over the years. I think back on some of the other places I have been, and there are a few that come to mind.

Fred the Barber was a favorite of my dad’s. I only remember that he was downtown somewhere in a two seat shop, and he was so old he could have apprenticed under Methuselah. After a couple of times I refused to go any longer, but I believe my younger brothers continued with Fred long after I had graduated to other places.

As a youngster the place I remembered most was Ray’s (I think) up by what was then the old grocery store on 21st East and 13th South. You walked in and grabbed a seat because there were always four or five heads in front of you. The beauty part was that Ray (if that really was his name) always had comic books to read while you waited. I remember many a fine summer morning wasting away reading bad humor from magazines with half the pages missing (hard to find any continuity).

Years later I went more of the “stylist” route. Bad smells, truly lousy magazines, and over paid artists (pronounced arteests). I even followed a couple to new locations when they had fallen out of favor with management or some of their cutting buddies. The results were always the same…. $30 bucks and a haircut that always looked the same after four days. Sometimes that was good, and sometimes that was bad.

But I digress. This week I was getting my latest hair fix and started making some observations. This place only charges $5 a cut, and they never seem to run out of heads to trim. There is a steady stream of hairy people walking through the door. This is a rectangular building about 25’ by 60’ with 12 chairs in it, six along each wall. There are mirrors along each long wall that give the impression that the place is much larger, but it ain’t. They are too busy to sweep up after every haircut, so you have to watch your step. If you have to wait for your favorite cutter, you have a choice of either an old molded plastic chair (red or orange) from a U of U medical department, a low wooden bench, or a folding chair. I think the magazines on the big round table in the middle of the room were donated by Fred’s estate sale (remember Fred?).

The barbers come from all walks of life, male and female, old and young, Asian and Eastern European. One lady barber sports an oxygen tank on wheels at all times. As diverse as the cutters are, the clientele are even more so. I am usually the only “white shirt” there, as I am stealing 15 minutes from work or lunch. It doesn’t matter, because we all look like refugees when the mismatched plastic covers are put on us around the neck. Some are faux leopard, some black, or a variety of other colors made up to match the rejected Crayola crayons from the 102 box set that nobody every used because they had funny names. Rockwell couldn’t have captured this one.

I found this place because of my old habit of following a barber from a previous location. I was delighted to find out that I could now get my old $12 haircut for only $5. Even with a $5 tip, I was still ahead of the game. Thing is, I am on my third barber in the same place. I got tired of going to Greg, so being hooked on a cheap haircut, I had to figure which day Greg took off, and try somebody else (I’m so shallow). Anywho, this last haircut was as good as any, and she seemed to appreciate the tip. Things is different from the old days. I don’t remember having to have my eyebrows trimmed every month. Don’t want to be a unibrow, do we? And a bushy one at that. Or the hair in my ears tamed. I seem to be growing hair everywhere but where I want it to grow. “And would it kill ya to not comb over that mole on my head?” Sheesh! OK then.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

"Kat! Hit Ball! Hard!"

That's what Emma says when I tell her we're going to a volleyball match at the U. Because, you see, our lovely (and tough!) daughter-in-law, Kathryn (Andy's wife), is on the women's volleyball team and she hits the ball HARD! That's her down there in the middle, in the white. On Thursday she achieved her 1,000th career kill (a "kill" is when you punch the ball so hard over the net that the opposing team can't return it...I used to not know that, being generally ignorant of sports-related terminology). Only 10 other women have done that in the U's history. Way to hit the ball hard, Kat.
Emma attended the match, dressed in Utah red. She hung with the cheerleaders for awhile...

...and didn't know which direction to face for the national anthem...but she got the hand position right. It was a fun evening.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Handsome Missionary Nephew

One of my nephews, Russell, went in to the Missionary Training Center today for 9 weeks of training before he heads to Naga, Philippines, for his 2-year mission. Above is a photo of me, Russell's grandparents and Aunt Barbie at the MTC. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and we had a glorious experience helping to send him off.

Good luck and God bless you, Russell. You will be an outstanding missionary.

Some of our family have decided to read the entire Book of Mormon during the month of October. That's roughly 18 pages a day (or 36 pages every other day ...). Hope I can keep up. It's not too late to join the challenge....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Couple of Photos, Etc.

Emma's looking pretty sharp with her new bangs.
Our friends Brad and Liz came for dinner last week with their two children, Anya and Dane. The kids had a great time together. Liz and I have already discussed marriage plans for Dane and Emma. We're happy they're getting to know each other early.

Funny things Emma has been saying lately:

- Every time she hears someone say "Barack Obama" on T.V. or radio, she says (quizzically), "Rock-a-bye Bama?".
- She's been watching a lot of "Dora," so when you say "thank you" she's likely to reply "De nada" (or sometimes "fenada").
- She says "totally." As in, "I lost my book. I totally can't find it." Our little Salt Lake Valley girl.
-She also says "that's cool" a lot.
-This morning after we ate she said, "Thank you for a hearty breakfast."
-She's very attached to her little blanket (which is now in rags and tatters). Sometimes she'll take a big sniff of it and say, "My blanket smells like my blanket."
-A couple of months ago we saw "To Kill a Mockingbird" on TV, the scene at the end where Scout discovers Boo Radley standing behind the door. Then just the other day we were watching it again, same scene, and Joe says, "Hey, Emma, what's the little girl going to say to the guy behind the door?" and she pipes up with "Hey Boo!" That's our girl, a regular cinemaphile.
- The other day she came up to me as I was sitting at the computer and said. "Sometimes you look really old...Why?" Uh oh kiddo, you're on to me.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

She Was a Good Dog

We got Annie at a PetSmart Adoption Fair in May, 1999. She was 8 weeks old and still had puppy breath. She was a chewing machine for about a year. She destroyed many a sock and shoe, including one of Aunt Julie's espadrilles. I came home from work one day to find the stuffing from our love seat strewn about the living room in great billowing piles.
She had jet-black fur and was rambunctious and silly.
Sometimes we'd take her out to the bike paths by the airport and let her run figure eights through the weeds.

She was Joe's loyal comrade as he recovered from heart surgery in 2000. They spent many mild September mornings sitting on the porch at our old place on 9th South, watching the world go by.
She was a good watch dog, a champion barker, but very mild-mannered. She escorted dozens of my piano students to their seats after greeting them at the front door.
She hadn't been well for a few months and had lost a lot of weight. The vet told Joe yesterday that she was filled with cancer. Poor poochy. We decided to let her move on. We will miss our faithful doggy, but we're glad she is now pain free. Goodbye, Annie dear. Annie
March 11, 1999 - September 13, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Off to School....with Bangs!

Today was Emma's first morning at her new preschool. She goes twice a week for three hours. I thought I was taking her photo this morning but I had the camera in movie mode, so that's why you have the herky jerky video. Behold the new bangs. It's kind of a nice change, and we don't have the raggly scraggly tendrils falling in front of the eyes any more.

When I picked up Emma from school this morning one of her teachers said, "She has a heart of gold! I'm so glad she's in my class." Apparently Emma had been extra nice to some of the other kids and had given a couple of hugs to a little boy who was crying.

She's been very sweet during my recovery from surgery, too. Almost every morning the first thing she asks is, "Your leg feel better today?" One day I told her that I would get better and better all the time and she said, "And then you'll be regular mama again." (I hope that's a good thing...)

She is a cutie patootie.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Somebody Needs a Haircut

And her name is Missy Em. Emma recently took her little blue scissors and took a whack at that section dangling in front of her eyes. It's now somewhere between bang length and chin length and I'm not sure whether to break down and get bangs or let the stragglers grow out...

What's your vote. Bangs for Emma?

Friday, August 22, 2008

And What's Denny Been Up To Lately?

So I had hip replacement surgery on Tuesday. My right hip has been giving me grief and misery for years, despite my otherwise perky youthfulness. It’s gone downhill fast the last couple years (hmmm, have I recently become more active? Been lifting 25 pounds or more? Twisting? Turning? Going down slides?), so Joe and I decided the time was now, after Emma has settled in to being home but before she’s a teenager and doesn’t want me to push her on the swings anymore, to have the deed performed.

Surgeons have made mighty strides in the hip replacement arena the last few years. My surgery was called a DASH (Direct Anterior Surgical Hip). Spiffy name, no? Instead of making a long incision on the side of the offending leg, cutting through muscles, etc., the surgeon makes a much smaller incision on the front of the leg, kinda scoots the muscles over (“outta my way…”) and slips in the new Kryptonite ball and socket. Recovery time is greatly reduced with the DASH because muscles don’t have to heal, and there aren’t any of the old movement restrictions of former hip recoveries (“Do not under any circumstances bend the operated leg more than 43.7 degrees to the upper right or the new hip will esplode and you will be left a quivering mass on the bathroom tile.”)

They performed the surgery on a high-techy looking machine like this.

I was unconscious before they strapped me in, so I can only hope that I got to wear the sporty yellow leotard, but I was awake when they put the ski-boot things on me. After they put the boots on, they said, “Everybody wears a party hat!” and put my hair in an industrial-strength shower cap. What a fun group! Then they said, “We’re going to shoot something in your IV to relax you a little bit,“ which I think is their way of saying, “So long, suckah.” I remember the pleasant sensation of revolving slowly on an air mattress in the swimming pool and chirpily announcing, “Wow, I can really FEEL this!” (I wanted to assure them that if their goal was to relax me then, yes, I was indeed relaxed. Well done! All of you!) And then the lights went out.

The next 36 hours were not as kind. I’ll gloss over the sorry details of throwing up (twice), crying like a little girl, being imperious and whiny with the night nurse (Jeremy), and downright crabby to the defenseless young food services worker who brought me breakfast and then tried to make a quick getaway (“Hey! How can I eat if I can’t sit up, move my table around or make my bed go up and down? No one showed me what to do!”)

But my, by Day 2, after I was released from my tangle of tubes and was able to get up and give the new joint a test drive, I felt ever so much improved. I can now stand up straight with both feet flat on the floor, which I could not do pre-surgery (I listed to port). If any of you take this ability for granted, I urge you to stand up straight right now and relish the sensation.

Now I’m home and feeling quite good. I’m using a walker, which makes me think of the old ladies dancing in “The Producers.” I expect to graduate to a cane before too long, and then to vigorous backward hand springs by Halloween. Hip hip hooray for E. Marc Mariani, M.D., who wears such attractive suits and also is a whiz of a surgeon. I highly recommend him. Joe has taken stellar care of Emma. He makes her fabulous breakfasts (sausage, homemade biscuits, fried eggs), buys her new clothes, and takes her on fun outings. And my mom and dad and other family and friends have been extremely attentive. I am most grateful!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What's Emma Been Up To?

She flew to Seattle for Cousin Ben's wedding (a splendid affair). We met Aunt Julie, Uncle Tom, and cousins Russell and Julia at the space needle.
And here are the freshly-wed Ben and Jax.
Emma looked pretty in her summery frock. Green on green.

Julia was one of the bride's attendants and looked tres elegante.
Emma saw the beautiful periwinkle hydrangeas in front of Aunt Adele's house in Kenmore, Washington... well as dear Aunt Adele herself.

In other recent adventures, Emma and her neighborhood pals visited the local fire station...

...she had a great playdate with her friend Brianne, who lives in Utah County (these two are like peas in a pod; they had an absolute blast)....

..and met up with another great group of China girls at Liberty Park last week (Hazel, Eliza, Anna, Maylin, Xanthe, Emily, Libbie and Emma. I love all the different hair-dos).

Emma had fun in the sun.

More words later; enjoy the pictures.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

53 Things About Joey

1. He’s 53 Friday (born on August 1, 1955).
2. This makes him a Leo (generous, independent, warm-spirited and loyal). Oh wait, we don’t believe in astrology. But he’s still all those things.
3. For years Joe was the middle child sandwiched among 4 sisters (Robyn-Susan-Joe-Carolee-Laurie).
4. Then when Joe was 13 his mom had twin boys, Mike and Matt.

5. Joe likes airplanes, the weather, TV shows about World War II (“Wings of the Luftwaffe!”), and movies with John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and/or explosions.
6. He hates the group Blue Oyster Cult (“Don’t Fear the Reaper…” AAGH!)
7. He also hates the group “Heart."
8. Joey’s a very good cook. He’s a master of the Big Green Egg.

9. On our first date I was telling him how I rode the bus for several months after my mission because I didn’t have a car yet and I said, “It’s hard to be spontaneous when you have to take the bus.” He said, “Well you can be, just at 20-minute intervals.” (I thought,”Hey, this guy’s kinda funny.”)
10. He graduated from Highland High School in 1973 (“Ramble!”).
11. He lovingly smokes pork shoulder 16 hours to make pulled pork.
12. He’s very punctual.
13. He went on a mission to Uruguay/Paraguay. His brother Matt went to the same mission (minus the Paraguay by then). They now address each other as “Hermano.”
14. One of his favorite movies is “The Blues-Brothers.” When it first came out in 1980 he went to it once a week for two months.
15. Joe broke his nose twice in jr. high/high school (once playing basketball, once wrestling).
16. Another yummy thing he makes: Hedgehog, a splendid meatloaf made of beef, pork, and veal, criss-crossed with bacon strips and rosemary sprigs. Joe got this recipe from that old cooking show “Two Fat Ladies.”
17. Another favorite movie: “Blazing Saddles” (“Give the governor a harrumph!”) “Harumph” is a common Joey expletive.
18. When Napster first came on the scene and wasn’t yet entirely illegal, Joe probably downloaded, like, 1,000 songs. He spent HOURS downloading his favorite tunes. I was a Napster widow.
19. Once when we were watching the Miss USA pageant I wondered aloud what the judging criteria were for the evening gown competition. “No gravy stains,” Joe said.
20. Yummy thing #3: Egg salad sandwiches, made late Sunday evening.
21. He used to sneak out of his bedroom window at night in the summer when he was a teenager and go to the 7-11 for an Orange Mac soda.
22. Joe’s been on three Alaska fishing trips with his dad and brothers/brothers-in-law. He caught great big halibuts and brought home frozen fillets that we ate for months.

23. Joe has visited 31 countries and 42 states.
24. He’s a San Francisco Giants fan.
25. He likes reading the Sunday obits and calling his sister Boo Boo to report on any that he finds unusual/amusing (like the one about the guy who was a blackbelt in karate and died doing what he loved most, “participating in the marital arts”).
26. Yummy thing #4: Breakfast burritos (flour tortillas with shredded potatoes, scrambled eggs, bacon and cheese.)
27. Once, very early in our dating days, we were driving somewhere in Davis County and I saw the exit sign for Willard Bay. “Willard” made me think of the movie “Ben” (about the rat) – because of course “Ben” was the sequel to “Willard.” So in my head I start humming the theme song for “Ben.” (“Ben, the two of us need look no more,” etc.) When I get to the part that starts going up high, Joe starts whistling “Ben” at the exact same spot I was at in my head, in the same key no less. I thought it was an eerily comical coincidence and proof that we should, you know, get married.

28. He’s a big tipper.
29. Another favorite movie: “Young Frankenstein” (“I suggest you put on a tie!”)
30. Joe's a good photographer. And he always volunteers to take families’ photos if we’re out somewhere and notices that somebody can’t be in the picture because they’re taking it.

31. When we were dating, he took me to Chicago to see the Monet exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute. Sighhh. Fun date.
32. Yummy thing #5: Homemade barbecue sauce (with brown sugar, molasses, white wine vinegar, allspice, chili powder, and probably many secret ingredients).
33. Joe loves the blues and listens to the likes of Jimmy Thackery, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Koko Taylor, and The Uppity Blues Women.
34. He also likes his CD of “Mozart French Horn Fragments”
35. We visited Antelope Island once. We stood and gazed at the buffalo, all of whom seemed to be frozen into position. I said, “Look; NONE of them are moving.” He said, “Well, they don’t have another show until 4:30…” Where does he come up with these things?
36. He likes watching “The Music Man” in the winter because it reminds him of summer.
37. His favorite comics are “Get Fuzzy” and “Zits.”
38. Another favorite movie: “Ghostbusters” (“That’s a big twinkie.”)
39. Joe used to keep a porcelain pig from Mexico in his office at work. Our nephew Hunter was visiting once and accidentally tipped it over and piggy broke. Joe calls Hunter “Porkchop” now.

40. Joey likes to sip mason jars of ice water, with lemon, in the evening.
41. We don’t normally frequent R-rated movies. Years ago an R movie came out that Joe wanted to see (I think it was “Cradle Will Rock”), so he cut out the PG-13 label from another movie and carefully glued it over the “R’” label for the one he wanted to see, then refolded the paper and put it back in the plastic bag. And then he didn’t say anything about it…I just happened to notice that “Cradle Will Rock” was rated PG-13 and I thought for sure it had been rated R when I saw the ad on T.V. And then I looked realllly close….
42. He’s a good storyteller (see preceding blogpost).
43. Jane Fonda bugs him.
44. Another favorite movie: “Caddyshack” (“So I got that goin’ for me…which is nice.”)
45. Once on Valentine’s Day he sent a group of singers to my office to serenade me.
46. Yummy thing #6: Brussels sprouts cooked with bacon and garlic. No really, they’re good.
47. Joe knows how to fix most things.
48. He doesn't get mad very often. Even when I once backed into our neighbor's fence and ripped out 10 or so feet of it and let their dog loose, all he said when I told him was "Whadja do that for?"
49. He answers to Joe, Joseph, Joey, Jose, Pop, Papa Joe, Baba, and sweetie-pie.
50. Yummy thing #7: Homemade peppermint ice cream.
51. Beverage of choice? Caffeine-free Diet Coke with vanilla.
52. He played the trombone in 5th grade.
53. He is richly deserving of a happy 53rd birthday, so please come out of lurkdom and send a howdy-do his way.