We’ve had a whole lot of busy going on around here lately.
- Sprinkler re-do: We have secondary water up here in Fruit Heights that is pressurized very well. The sprinklers are tied to that system but they’ve been a problem basically since we’ve moved in. I wanted to re-build the whole control system but have lacked motivation. Well, while I was in Washington, D.C., last month, they pressurized the system and one of the plastic shut-off valves broke in half and flooded Leah’s room in the basement. Flood + wife dealing with the aftermath = motivation. Simple algebra, really. I cut the whole thing out, moved it about 8 feet away, rebuilt the valve manifold and main shut-off, and added a spigot and filter. Success. I actually felt a great sense of accomplishment when this was complete. With 90 degree days coming this week, I am happy to have something for my lawn to drink. Thanks to Bryon Leavitt for his help!
- Wedding: My sister Kaitlin — #10 of 11 children — was married last week to Chad Lanham. As a side note, his mom’s name is Karen, so during the festivities we were talking to Karen Lanham, which is pronounced the same as Karen Lannom, one of my former co-workers. It was weird. Anyway, Kaitlin got married at the Provo, UT temple and it was fun to be able to participate. Congrats, Katy!
Katy’s beautiful wedding dress
The four (of 5) Clark sisters at the wedding
Some of the decor at the reception
That’s the hottie I married.
- Church calling: I was released as a youth Sunday School teacher (age 16-17) and called as the adult Gospel Doctrine teacher. This is the first time I’ve had this calling and, in fact, I’ve only ever taught this class once in my entire life — about a month ago as a substitute. This will be fun yet challenging for me since I’m no expert in church doctrine.
- Photo shoots: We took our kids to BYU’s campus to do an impromptu photo shoot. My kids aren’t that cooperative so we didn’t get a bunch of great ones to hang on the wall, but we did capture some fun ones. Later that day, I did an informal photo shoot for my brother Adam and his wife and kids. They were much better about looking at the camera and paying attention.
It must have been something really funny.
I have no idea what Austin is doing.
At some point Austin decided he’d had enough of Abby and Leah
Man, he’s an odd one
Leah is an awesome jumper!
Abby gets some real air
(LtoR) Adam, Sam, Ella, George, Grace, Henry, Amy
- Calf branding: There is a guy who lives down the street from us who owns a small (<200 acres) ranch south of Evanston, WY. The ranch isn’t his main job, but more of a hobby. When I found out this winter that he had a ranch, I approached him and said, “Hoyt, my goal is to get to know you well enough that you’ll invite me to come up to your ranch and work for a day.” He said, “Well, why don’t you help with branding this spring?” I haven’t branded since I was a missionary in Nebraska (in 1997) so I jumped at the chance. That came on Saturday. I made the 1.5 hour drive to their ranch and was there by 8am and immediately put to work. We herded the cattle from the pasture to the corrals, immunized and branded the calves, and basically got really tired. After all that was done, I helped fix fence for a bit. It was good work and I look forward to helping next year. Sorry, no pictures.
Phew. School is winding down and the kids are excited about summer. We’ve been in our home in Fruit Heights just over 9 months now and have really enjoyed our time up here. We’ve also recently had a few friends come up to the house, the Smiths, Garners, and Bryon Leavitt. We love keeping in touch with the great friends we made during our 7 years in West Jordan.
I really enjoyed my trip to DC. I saw parts of the town I hadn’t seen before and I got to top a good work trip off with a great few days with my brother Dave, his wife Tana, and their two adorable daughters Ansleigh and Lucy. We started off with some Salvadoran food and then Dave tried to get me to join a rousing game of bocce ball in Logan Circle. I turned it down, which was good since it would have been a bit awkward once the well-dressed hip men from with slight lisps in speech started hitting on me. Yeah, Nellie’s was sponsoring the game night. Let’s just say that even though SLC is one of the most gay-friendly cities (or so they say), DC takes it to a whole new level.
I asked Dave to show me his office. He shares office and showroom space with another company in the Powerhouse building on the C&O Canal in Georgetown just off the Potomac. It’s a pretty awesome location and awesome building. I watched him set up for an event and observed the guts of one of his many photobooths. It was fun to see the technology involved and the immediate results these things spit out. Dave then took me on a tour of part of Georgetown. It felt like Lahaina Front Street on Maui, but without the Banyan Trees or the shave ice. I was also treated to the wonder of Wegman’s Grocery Store, a store desirable enough that they’ll drive across town to shop there rather than the two or three grocers they pass on the way.
On Saturday we played church basketball and Dave pushed me all over the court. He’s a beast. Then we went and played a round of disc golf. It was my first time ever playing and it was a blast. By the 11th hole I finally got a tee shot off that I was almost proud of. But, like real golf, I can’t putt worth crap. After golf, we all went to DC again and visited the Library of Congress and saw more of town, including a great ice cream shake near the Capitol.
I watched and helped Dave set up the booth for an event the next day
This is one of their photobooths
Didn’t buy any of these, but Wegmans sure knew how to tempt me.
Ansleigh and Lucy on a quest for toys
Ansleigh in the backyard
Ansleigh in the backyard
I got all my kids cheap shirts from a street-side vendor on the Mall.
I am on travel in Washington, D.C., this week. This is my third trip to the Nation’s Capitol, and third time on business. This is the first time, however, that my meetings are based in the downtown portion of DC. Previously, my meetings were near Univ. of Maryland in College Park and in Fairfax, VA. We are meeting in the US Forest Service International Programs office on Thomas Circle (map) north of the Mall. I haven’t ventured out this way much before so this is a nice change. Wikipedia has a cool picture of Thomas Circle from 1922.
I elected to stay in an historic bed and breakfast for my lodging. It is a very old rowhouse that has been restored, ala what they did on This Old House a few years ago. It’s a cool place with a lot of character and in a fun neighborhood.
My meetings were great, but work in DC is different than home, for sure. I wore a full suit for the first time ever to work. Most folks picture people who work for the Forest Service wearing shorts and Teva’s to work. Not here in DC.
Yeah, that’s me in the tan shirt on the left. Totally paying attention. Ten people in attendance at the meeting and 3 or 4 attending virtually via a telecon and WebEx.
My meetings are over; now I am going to spend the next 2+ days with my brother Dave and his wife Tana and two adorable daughters. I am really excited to see their digs and life in their neck of the woods.
I am not an electrician. I can do your basic stuff (install new light fixtures and switches, for example), but I don’t design systems. I usually defer to my father and father-in-law for the real brain power. Since we have a bathroom in our basement completely gutted, I figured now was a good time to install a vent fan to help rid the room of moist air (okay, and stinky smells from, well, you know … fecal excrement). I drilled the 4.125″ hole through the side of my house to provide the air a place of escape and then installed the hardware. The wiring was a bit confusing, though. I had a pretty good idea of what I was doing, but needed a bit more clarification. Due to our move last August, however, it’s not very easy for me to call Jen’s dad and say, “Hey, will you swing by the house on the way home from work and take a look at <whatever>?” Instead, I relied on the beauty of PowerPoint. He returned the favor. Outcome: we now have a vent fan (and new light) installed in the bathroom.
This was what I sent Mark explaining the situation.
This was Mark’s response.
A friend, Travis Maughan, invited me to accompany him on a bike ride on Saturday. We met at his house in Kaysville at 7am and drove to Antelope Island. We hit the trail by 7:45am and rode the nearly 8 mile White Rock Loop trail. I’ll admit — it was a bit chilly when we started. We were biking into a stiff wind and it was in the high 40′s/low 50′s at the time. Luckily, there was nearly 700 feet of incline in the first 3 or 4 miles so we warmed up nicely.
Nothing left to climb at this point. It was gorgeous on top.
This video shows the view from the top of our ride. A GPS track of our ride can be found on Google Maps. It turned out to be a great day for a ride. We were home by ~10am and on to the events of the day. (Side note: while Travis and I were out exercising, Jen took the kids to a local diner — Granny Annie’s — for breakfast. After hearing about their cinnamon roll and frybread, I’m jealous.)
I had the fun opportunity to go back to BYU’s campus today to be a guest lecturer in a GIS class. This is actually the fourth time I’ve done this in the last 3 years and I’ve found the experience to be entertaining and exciting. I feel like I was in college just a few years ago — but it’s been longer than a few years. I finished my undergrad in December, 2002, and my Master’s in April, 2007.
For old time’s sake, I stopped by the Twilight Zone and bought a bagel and a drink. I looked for my old stand-by (potato bagel) but couldn’t find one. Instead, I got an asiago cheese bagel, my second choice. I’ve probably consumed a hundred bagels from that store in my time as a college student. When I went to check out, the cashier asked, “Do you have your ID with you?” I smiled and said, “No, not anymore!” He responded, “Oh, did you graduate?” I smiled again and said, “Yes,” to which his response was, “Awesome, congratulations!” Yeah, I’ve been done there for over 6 years — as an old graduate student. I must look young … or the cashier thought it some great accomplishment that someone as dumb looking as me could actually graduate.
Anyway, I gave my 50 minute presentation in Geography 212 (intro to GIS) and went to lunch with the professor, who is really in adjunct status and was a grad school classmate of mine. The whole experience made me think back to many fond memories of time on that campus. I really enjoyed my college years and had a lot of fun.
While this was captured today from my cell phone, at times I felt like I was a long-lost visitor making my way back to a campus I used to know.
Over the last few years, I’ve really started to appreciate and enjoy the Easter week more and more. I think it started the first time I heard Elder Jeffrey Holland give a talk entitled “None were with him.” It was such a powerful talk and the message hit me in a way I’ve never felt before. In that talk he describes the ironic week starting with Palm Sunday and ending with Resurrection Sunday (Easter). The amazing thing was that he went from nearly rock star status on Palm Sunday and his triumphant entry into Jerusalem to completely alone and unsupported — even from the Father — on Friday, the day of atonement. It’s a powerful story and one that has been resonating with me over the last few years.
We certainly celebrate the secular side of the holiday, but not all that intensely. The kids went to Fruit Heights City’s Easter Egg hunt (lasted all of about 3 minutes) and then walked up the street to the Presbyterian Church Easter Egg hunt. They had an abundance of teeth-rotting treats for the kids — which they loved. We live 4 houses from the Presbyterian Church so it’s a short walk home.
My kids with some of the neighborhood friends.
While Jen and the kids were hunting for eggs, a friend of mine (Travis Maughan) came over and we proceeded to cut a ~50′ tree down. I was very grateful for Travis, his chainsaw, and his willingness to come over on a weekend to help while his family was at home. One of my neighbors also came over with some ropes and a come along to help with the effort. It came down relatively easy due to the tools and expertise of these two guys (not me; I’m just physical labor).
This was the tree we felled. Fun times.
Travis did most of the chainsaw work — I don’t even own one. Sigh.
Today for Easter Sunday dinner my entire Utah family came up to my house. It was really fun to have everyone up at our home for a brief message (8 minute video about Easter) and then a yummy potluck dinner. The weather is perfect right now outside and we all had a great time spending time together.
Unrelated: Leah and I made cupcakes a few weeks ago. She was anxious to try her hand a baking and Jen gave me the green light to help. We had a great time.
Leah and her cupcakes — butter cream frosting and all.
Do you remember the movie with Sandra Bullock called Miss Congeniality? There is a scene in the movie where the beauty contest judges asked a particularly blonde contestant to describe their “perfect date.” The surprising answer was, “April 15th. It’s not too cold, not too hot.”
Well, folks, if one of those judges asked me to describe my perfect date, I could very easily have said, “Wednesday, March 13, 2013.” I think we found perfection on Wednesday. There was sunshine, clouds, slight breeze at times, and perfect stillness at others. The temperature hit 71 or 72 degrees. It was light outside until nearly 8pm. It seriously was the epitome of a perfect (climatically speaking…) day. Even Jen commented that at one time, she stood outside and said, “I don’t feel any feeling of cold.” That was the first day since last October we could actually say that. Wohoo!
Having said all that, I’m not ready to start mowing the lawn and dealing with sprinklers.
But, on a different note, here are two pictures of my kids I took this week in our house.