Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Another Funeral

So I'm extremely behind in writing blogs and I've had this one written in my head for over a month, just no time to sit down or if I did I was finishing my last class! I started my student teaching last week and we had wonderful company for a month - enough excuses.

Just four days after we got home from my cousin's wedding in Utah we got an early morning call telling us that my father-in-law, Ralph, had passed away. We weren't surprised because he had been sick for the last five years and had fallen the first of June and things had not been going well. But you are always surprised even when you know that death is coming.

Garth spent one weekend in St. Johns helping his mother make all the decisions and make all the funeral arrangements and then we had the funeral the next weekend. Garth's family is a little musically challenged, but they still had all the grandkids sing a song. Here is the practice and everyone was worrying they would be embarrassed by their lack of ability.
And even though Lonica hadn't played the piano in years, she was called upon to play a solo. Catherine had to listen and okay the number.
In the entry way to the church, Jill, Cara and Lora set up some pictures and memorabilia of Ralph's.
Garth and his brother, Keith, both spoke as did a grandson, Adam; they all did a great job. Lonica's solo went well too. The grandkids song was after Adam spoke and everyone was in tears and couldn't sing. So their singing abilities were never questioned because it just looked as though they were too emotional to be able to sing. Jason and Preston were the only ones who were able to help everyone out and sing the whole song.
It was really warm the day of the funeral but you can't tell that from the pictures. Here are all of my boys looking so handsome in their suits. Keith is also looking good in his new suit.
Since St. Johns is such a small place, the guys had to lower the casket into the ground themselves. Jason was on the corner and the soil beneath him gave way and he almost went in on top of the casket. You can see a man who came to his rescue and held on to his belt. Garth's cousin, Royce is a mortician and is always called on the for these affairs. He is so good and does such a wonderful job.
After the luncheon, I made all the grandkids get up and take a picture together. I think the last one they took, when everyone was together, was over 10 years ago. By the end of this year there will be 9 great-grandkids as well.
In the evening, Colleen, my mother-in-law, wanted to go back out to the cemetery and have another look. She had been holding up so well all day and just wanted one more chance to say good-bye to her husband of over 60 years.
For the last few years, Ralph couldn't make it much further than his kitchen table, unless he was having a really good day. He said he held down the command post right there and talked to everyone on his cell phone and kept up with the blogs and knew what was happening before most people in the family.
The last time I talked to him was on my way back from Havasupi. I had been gone for three days and when I got back into cell range, I listened to a message from him telling me that I needed to call him right away - it was important! I called and he told me that the message had been left days ago, and just where had I been?
After explaining where I'd been, he proceeded to tell me that Raquel had just found out she was having a baby girl and Kyle and his wife were expecting twins. He even knew about my granddaughter before me!
I have been amazed how much I have missed the crusty old guy and find myself wanting to tell him so many things. He can finally take a full deep breath and I'm happy for that, but we miss him so much!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Look who's come for a visit

Our favorite 10 1/2 month old in the whole world has come to visit from Ohio for a month!

She did bring her mom along and we like her as well. We are going to have a great time with them.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Preston's 18th birthday

Tuesday, July 6, we all gathered in our usual places to celebrate Preston's 18th birthday. Now Garth and I can relax a little - all our children are considered adults and we aren't legally responsible for anything stupid they may do! Actually, I was pretty sad, a whole chapter of my life in raising children has come to a close.

At any rate we helped Preston celebrate becoming an adult by having him sit in the present opening spot.

As usual, Preston was very grateful for anything he is given and he loved the movies, book, swimsuit, magazine subscription, Zune passes and especially the snow gloves. Yes, we know it is July but the kid has snowboarding on his mind all year round.

After present opening, we moved into the kitchen for the blowing of the candles and the singing of "Happy Birthday". Preston is not a big cake eater so Raquel made dessert crepes and we had to strategically place the candles in the crepe to keep them upright. In case you don't understand our unique numbering system for candles, the 1 represents 10 and then you have to add the 6 + 2 to get 8 to give you 18. We really don't see any reason to actually buy the numbers of someones age you just improvise with what you have from leftover candles from birthdays in the past.

Preston was able to blow out all three candles in one breath and we were so proud of him.

We also received his AP grades this month and had more reason to be proud of him and all the work he did in high school that lead to a scholarship to ASU for next year. But we are especially proud of the young man he is becoming - hard working, responsible, fun, dependable, caring and strong. We love you Preston!!!

My Cousin's Wedding

The first of July, Garth and I made a quick trip to Utah for my cousin, Ryan's wedding. He has been living in Canada for the last few years so it had been awhile since we had seen him. We thought it would be a great opportunity to visit my mom and Ed, see some of my family and get out of the heat.

Ryan was marrying Irina who was from Bangladesh and lots of her family and friends were flying in from all over the world for the wedding. A couple of weeks previous to the legal ceremony (they had in Utah), they had had a religious one with an Iman in Canada.

Friday night, before the wedding, there was a kind of 'meet the family' dinner and participate in Bangladesh wedding traditions. Her family had rented a big house in Salt Lake City and when we got there they had it decorated and lots of food. Irina entered under this canopy.
She had all kinds of jewelry from her grandmother and she and Ryan had special clothes just for that night.
The mothers had to tie a kind of flower bracelet to their wrists that they had to wear until the wedding ceremony the next evening.
Then Irina's father explained how we all would use a turmeric paste to put on their foreheads and our own and then feed them something from the trays of food on the small table in front of them.
Here is my mother applying the paste to Ryan.
Then Irina's sister danced for us and Ryan's sister, Jennifer, did a belly dance for us.
We then were served the main dishes and the desserts. We had already had the appetizers and those had filled us up. My mom, Ed, Garth and I were especially full because my mom didn't think there would be food and we had gone out to dinner before coming. This is a picture of just the desserts. Irina's mother and aunts had made all the food and her father told us that they were the very best of cooks. For first time Indian/Bangladesh food eaters, it was really different for us, especially the yogurt sprinkled with curry.
After dinner they started painting all the women's hands with henna and it was amazing how good they were. I really wanted to get my hands painted but my mom wasn't feeling well so we had to go. Dang!
Here is my cousin, Shari's daughter, Sydney, with her had partially painted.
The next day we drove through the Avenues and found a great little deli for lunch. It was so nice to be able to sit outside and eat - that wouldn't be happening in Arizona this time of year! Then we explored the old Salt Lake City cemetery and yes it was fun.
That evening we went up City Creek Canyon were the ceremony was held. It was a beautiful evening and a perfect setting. Irina's family had gotten the measurements of all of Ryan's family and had suris made for his mom, sisters and Shari's children. Here are Shari, Stephanie and Jennifer in their specially made suris.
This is a picture of Irina's beautiful sister and Irina and Ryan exchanging rings.
We then went inside to eat and here are Ryan and Irina now legally man and wife.
A few people spoke, sharing wishes and memories and then we all danced to Bollywood music.
Then Irina's sister and her cousins and friends danced and danced for us to Bollywood songs that they knew very well and we'd never heard. In this picture Irina is dancing with them after she had changed into a more western styled wedding dress - that is now three beautiful dresses she wore.
Garth and I had such a good time and we were so glad we had made the trip up. Irina and her family were so friendly and impressive and we could see why Ryan had fallen in love with her. What a wonderful experience to see some of the traditions of another culture and enjoy this time with family. The world if filled with so many good people!

Sunday, July 4, 2010


In June I fell into some reservations to one of my most favorite places in the world - Havasupi. There were reservations for 20 and I did my best to find 20 people to go (if I didn't invite you sorry) but I ended up with just 9 of us hiking the 10 miles down into a canyon with some of the most beautiful water and waterfalls in the world.

Here is our group Leila, Kristen and her daughter, Sydney, Helana and her mom, Bridget, Shalmarie, me, Kristy and her daughter McKelle. Only Bridget had hiked it before and that was when she was 15. So I had a group of inexperienced hikers who were very experienced by the time we got out two days later. We left at about 5:00am and it took us about 4 hours to make it to the bottom, pretty good time when you consider we have 8 and 9 year olds.
One thing that everyone learned quickly was to get out of the way when you could hear the horses coming. They come along pretty fast and they have the right-of-way.
In August of 2008 there was a huge flood that went through the village and the river changed course creating two new waterfalls and eliminating one of my favorites. I hadn't been down in a few years and was anxious to see what it was like since the flood and the changes that had taken place.
Here is our first view of the second of the new falls. The first is just above this one and can be seen from this one but not until you have hiked down further. The new falls don't have 'official' names yet but this one is being called the New Navajo Falls until the counsel decides for sure.
You can see the beautiful color of the water hasn't changed and vegetation is coming back but there are no big trees for shade and it was hot.
The next falls we hit was Havasu Falls and it has changed as well. The huge pool at the bottom of the falls had filled in and you can almost walk up to the waterfall now. Everyone in our group was so impressed and was glad that it looked like the long hike was worth it.
We quickly found a place to put our things down and headed for the water.
Unfortunately, about 1 1/2 hours later the beautiful clear water turned to mud. They were excavating up the river aways to prevent future floods from taking out the cemetery. The rest of the day the river was a mud mess and they were suppose to excavate the next day as well. Who wants to swim in that? I was so upset that the Indians would take our money and not even mention that you wouldn't be able to swim in the water.
After setting up camp, we decided to hike back up to the new falls which were above the area they were excavating. As we hiked back up, we found this great little swimming hole and played around here for awhile.
Then we went back to the falls we had seen on our hike in. They have a large pool at the bottom and are about 35 feet high. They are perfect falls to jump off of.
We watched a few people jump off and then Shalmarie and I decided to jump. Here is Shalmarie taking off.
After playing some more in the pools below this waterfall and jumping off some ledges, we headed back to camp for dinner and some well deserved rest. I think we all went to bed about 8:00.
The next morning we got up early and hiked the 1/2 mile down to Mooney Falls we wanted to see them before the water turned to mud again. It too had changed and the large pool at the base of this fall had filled in as well, but it is still spectacular.
After setting my timer on my camera about a dozen times, I finally got a good picture of us. We are getting soaked right here from the spray of the falls and it is early and a bit chilly. That will change quickly though.
Luckly the water never did turn brown again and we played at Havasu Fall and then later Shalmarie and I decided to hike up to the very first falls that we hadn't really seen. What a good decision that was! From down below you can only see a very small portion of Rock Falls - their temporary name. They are wide and lush, but difficult to get to. You have to do some boulder hopping to get to them.
More of Rock Falls.
Shalmarie in front of part of Rock Falls.
And me in front of Rock Falls.
Again we hit the bed early because we had a long hike out the next day. Bridget and Kristen started an hour earlier than the rest of us because they were worried about how their girls would do. But everyone did great and we made it out in about 4 hours. When the rest of us got to the top, Bridget had cold watermelon waiting for us and that was heaven. We don't look too much different from our pre hike picture but we sure smelled different!
The worst thing was having to wait a couple of hours for the horses to bring up our packs, but we found some shade, ate watermelon and talked. We then headed for the Road Kill restaurant in Seligman and had great hamburgers and fries - our Havasupi hiking tradition.
We had a great time and even though the last mile and a half are hard when you hike out, everyone agreed that all the hiking was well worth it. I'm glad that one of my most favorite places is still beautiful and wonderful and I can't wait to go back again and explore the new waterfalls some more. Next summer!