Tag Archives: Helvetican

Happy Thanksgiving!

22 Nov

Hmmm, there’s a layer of dust on the old blog. I’ve been away for a while, and until I get some things settled in regular life, I can’t guarantee I’ll post very often in the next few weeks. But I did want to take a moment and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! (Yes, I know some of you are not Americans, but just go with it. Thanksgiving is as much a state of mind as it is a historical remembrance.)

I love this holiday. It’s relaxing. Especially this year, where it worked out that we are staying home and no extended relatives are coming here. I can’t recall the last time we had a Thanksgiving day with just the nuclear family and I’m really looking forward to it.

I am thankful for so much in my bountiful life. I have a dear husband and great kids, wonderful friends, and a career that I love. I have gained readers this year, for whom I am exceedingly grateful. I live in a place free of war, where there is plentiful food, clean water, and warm housing. I am free to follow my dreams and to worship as I please. Life is good, and I am blessed.

I wish all the best for you and yours, for today and for always. Off I go to put in the turkey!

What are you most thankful for?

Exploring Yellowstone in the Fall

19 Oct

The last week really got away from me. The Helvetican and I went to Yellowstone for our anniversary trip. Most everything inside the park was closed for the season, and the town of West Yellowstone, where we stayed, was clearly wrapping up the tourist season too. Some of the restaurants were closed and several shops advertised clearance sales. However, having been to Yellowstone during the regular season and now, in the off-season, I much prefer going when there’s not so many other people around. It’s much quieter and the pace is slower. Good stuff.

My trip didn’t end on such a grand note, due to food poisoning the last night that made the drive home the next day a bit uncomfortable and exhausting, and left me kinda under the weather all week. But let’s not let that get in the way of good memories. On to the photos!

One of the great things about visiting Yellowstone in the fall is that you can look around the park as you’re driving and see steam rising from all the thermal features in the park. It’s amazing to see. However, it made taking photos of said features a bit tricky.

Emerald Pool is one of the many colorful thermal pools in the Yellowstone caldera. Most of them were impossible to photograph because in the cold air, the rising steam obscured the colors.

One of the many bubbling mudpots in the park. Many are reduced to hissing out steam rather than frothing with mud due to lower water/mud levels this time of year.

 

I got a kick out of this mudpot. Found in the Artist’s Paint Pots area, this one looks like bright white paint bubbling in the ground.

 

Definitely don’t want to jump in this pool for a soak. See the boiling going on there?

Got close to a bison just off the road. A good-sized herd of probably 50 bison, including babies, were fording this river, two at a time, for grazing hills on the other side. Reminds me of Peg-leg! (see Mending Fences)

There is a craggy canyon carved through one section of Yellowstone, where the river has been busy wearing away rock for millennia. This is the Upper Falls in that canyon.

Around a bend in the river/canyon, is another, the Lower Falls.

I met these two cuties at the lookout for the Lower Falls. The tree roots they’re playing on have had the ground eroded from below. There’s a drop almost straight to the bottom of the canyon beneath these cute critters.

Here’s the Helvetican! He brought his little telescope to better enjoy the features of the canyon.

This pretty elk stopped traffic to grab a bite along the road.

 

One of my favorite parts of the trip was a visit to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. The wolves living in their packs are gorgeous animals. I loved getting so close to them, separated via a platform a few feet in the air and an electric fence. Apparently, if you stay in the hotel across the street, you can hear them howl at night.

That’s probably enough photos for now. I didn’t post geyser photos, mainly because there are photos of Old Faithful everywhere online. I may post more on here later, but at some point, it becomes rather like the old days of friends inviting you over to watch their home movies, you know?

Have you been to Yellowstone? What was your favorite sight?

Lucy’s Monday Musings & Heading for Yellowstone

8 Oct

It’s 11pm on Monday, and I’m FINALLY getting a chance to sit and catch my breath. Oy, what a weekend! The Helvetican had a few days off, but ended up sick. Poor thing. And you know, I love men, but they are the worst patients when they get sick…

Oh, come on, you know it’s true.

So, in addition to playing Nurse Lucy, I edited two magazine issues (only one of which I expected to land in my lap), and dealt with son #4. What’s his problem? He hates high school. Here’s a kid who is popular, smart, athletic…the kind of kid who is supposed to float through high school, everything going his way, everyone adoring him. He has all of that, and he doesn’t want it. For two years, he’s wanted to be be done already, free to move on to college. Now, as a senior, when he’s supposed to be having fun and breezing through his last year, he’s decided to bear down and earn credits outside of the regular school day so he can graduate early, at mid-year.

I admire his determination, but I’m not sure I’m ready to deal with a kid who wants to buck the system…especially since it will cost a pretty penny to get those extra credits. I like the school year to run in an orderly fashion, and he’s shaking it up. I have to remind myself that it could be far worse. He could have decided to simply drop out. Yeah, given that option, I think I’ll just happily take paying for extra credits for a kid who’s finally driven to do something.

So, it’s been a very full few days. Tonight finished off with a scramble: grocery store, running several loads of laundry, attempting to check in online. I have to ensure that the kids are all set with whatever they might need before I leave in the morning. The Helvetican and I are heading off to Yellowstone for a couple of days. It’s our anniversary trip, and I plan to unplug, unwind, and enjoy.

Take care of yourself, have a lovely week, and I’ll be back on Friday with lots of cool (I hope) vacation photos!

Happy Anniversary! Lucy’s Real Romance

5 Oct

Today is my wedding anniversary! After raising five kids with my Helvetican Hero, you can imagine how many crazy, fun, dramatic stories I have stuffed in my memory. But the best story of all is how we ended up together.

I was divorced and dating a few different guys. One particular guy was introduced to my profile by the woman running the dating service we’d both joined a few months earlier. This pre-dated online matchmaking, and while a computer would suggest members with similar interests within a particular age range, we still had to look through binders full of hand-written profiles and photos. I had already viewed his profile, really liked what I saw, and had given permission for him to contact me. He liked my profile as well and called me one week before my birthday.

We talked for an hour on the first call. He asked me out and we met for dinner and a long walk a few days later. By the time he sent flowers to my office the next day, I was hooked. We talked every night on the phone for hours, because we lived in different cities and getting together was tricky.

He had other plans on my birthday, but he called me late that night, and as we talked, the conversation turned serious. Suddenly, the perfect moment struck, and he asked me to marry him.

I’d known him a week. We’d seen each other one night. I hadn’t even kissed him yet. But I knew. Lightning had struck, and I just knew.

I said yes.

Oh, I did finally kiss him when I saw him the next day. A lack of chemistry would have been a deal-breaker, but when his lips touched mine…wow! Every nerve ending in my body hummed.

One month later, he picked me up and we eloped to Vegas. We were married by the Reverend Belinda Rhodes at the Little White Wedding Chapel, the one with the drive-through window. It was the start of an amazing ride together. And after all these years, he can still make me weak in the knees with a kiss.

I don’t recommend this approach to finding a mate to anyone else, because the list of ways it could’ve gone terribly wrong is a mile long. But for us, it worked.

Now you know why I write romance…because underneath the ups and downs and doldrums of regular life, I’m blessed to live Happily Ever After!

Burst of Happiness: A new review!

16 Sep

A lovely Sunday messed up by tender sinuses, stuffy ears, and assorted body aches can be salved by a few things… a thoughtful hubby who takes care of dinner and tucks me into bed… the DVR recording of last night’s new Doctor Who episode… and finding a great new review of Mending Fences. 4 Stars from Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews! Check it out here: http://www.guiltypleasuresbookreviews.com/2012/09/review-mending-fences-by-lucy-francis.html

Another Birthday Gone and Blog Hop Wrap Up

4 Sep

Birthday flowers from my boys!

Hi everyone! What a great Labor Day weekend. Things were truly hopping around here with the blog hop. Locally, after a huge thunderstorm rolled through here and cleaned out the air, we finally got a refresher course in what the mountains and blue sky look like without wildfire smoke haze obscuring everything. Ahhhhh! As an added bonus, the weather has cooled off, FINALLY. Sooooo done with summer heat. Bring on fall!

Thanks for all the lovely birthday wishes! The birthday stretched to three days this time, to accommodate everyone’s schedules. The Helvetican and I went for sushi on Saturday, yummy, then the family party was on Sunday, with my sister and dad hanging out with us for grilled chicken and ribs. My mom called and her hubby sang a birthday song he wrote.

The kids all remembered my birthday this year, and it was so much fun. The Princess wrote a song about my birthday with ukulele accompaniment. She also made me a Doctor

Tardis card, made by the Princess.

Who Tardis card, complete with the Tenth Doctor inside. Perfect nerd-girl gift! The boys went all out, with cards, coupons for free household chores, cards, flowers, Diet Coke, dark chocolate of several varieties…yes, I’ve trained them well. Then last night, we hit our favorite Mexican place, whose chile verde-smothered chimichangas are divine. I’m calling it a successfully completed birthday.

Inside the Tardis card…The Doctor, of course!

Romancing the Hop ended last night, and I have winner announcements! I plugged all of your comments into the Randomizer to come up with a winner. Miriam Roman wins her choice of a $15 Amazon or B&N gift card. Congrats, Miriam!

FYI, there were 9,000 comments left across the blog hop! Wow! The Hop Grand Prize winners are:

Kindle Fire Winner:
Laurie Goudge
(from It’s the Journey that Counts’s Blog)
$130 Amazon Gift Card:
Ellie
(from Carrie Ann Ryan’s Blog)
Swag Pack:
Cassandra
 (from Dana Delamar’s Blog)

Today’s plan? Get a magazine article out the door because today is deadline, and maybe sneak in a nap. Anything else is a wonderful bonus accomplishment.

What did you do this weekend? Any big plans for your week?

Romancing the Hop!

31 Aug R

Welcome to the hop! There are over 200 authors and bloggers participating in this blog hop, and the prizes are AWESOME! Each participating blog is offering a prize, plus, for each blog where you leave a comment, you are entered into the drawing for one of THREE grand prizes. Remember to leave your email address in your comment!

Now what are those prizes?

 1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet

2nd Grand Prize: A $130 Amazon or B&N Gift Card

3rd Grand Prize: The following Swag Pack!

 So, on with the hop! But first, and this has nothing to do with the blog hop, but I’m throwing it out there anyway…Sunday is my birthday! Happy birthday, Self!

Now then, let’s chat a bit about romantic gestures, those sweet things our heroes do that just melt our hearts. The Helvetican has always been good about the classic gestures: remembering the dates of my birthday and our anniversary, taking me out for regular date nights, buying me flowers (extra points for remembering that roses are not the only flower on the planet) and/or chocolate, and accompanying me to events he has no interest in just because he knows I want to go.

I love those things, but it’s the little things he does that really turn me to mush. Like how he remembers so many details from funny or sweet moments in our whirlwind courtship, and how he’ll talk about falling in love with me, or what he loves about me now. Or the way he always manages to walk in the door holding a Diet Coke when I really need one. Or the quiet flirting, the way he’ll hold me or drop a quick kiss on the back of my neck and pat me on the backside, even when there are teenagers in the room. Yes, they groan and tease us, but I think it’s a great example to them of keeping the good stuff alive in your relationship, even when you’ve been married long enough to have teenagers.

In return, I give him little romantic gifts, too. Guys do tend to find different things romantic than we do. With the Helvetican, when I pick up his car at work and return it to its parking spot after a wash and vacuum, he gets a little misty eyed. He’s the only guy he knows who never gets a honey-do list on his day off, and he regularly mentions how much that means to him, that he’s allowed to just enjoy his time off work. But I think his favorites are those little gifts of physical affection when he’s not expecting it, like a quickie before he heads off to work, or a little flash when we’re alone on a mountain trail. Those moments tell him I still find him sexy and I still enjoy playing with him after all these years.

It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut in a relationship, but it doesn’t take big romantic overtures to keep the wheels of love turning and stir up the passion. What’s your favorite romantic gesture to give or receive? Leave a comment (remember your email addy) for an entry into the Grand Prize drawing, as well as an entry into MY drawing! I’m giving away a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card! Then, continue on the Hop with this link: Romancing the Hop. Have fun!

Photos from the Roadie

17 Aug

Life is a little more hectic than usual with students preparing for the return to school, so I’m a bit late on this. Better late than never, though, so in that spirit, here are the photos from the roadie the Helvetican and I took on Tuesday!

The goal of the roadie was to see places neither of us had seen before. We’ve lived in Utah for much of our lives and neither of us had ever been to the Golden Spike National Historic Site. Rail was the future of the growing nation in the 19th century. The Union and Central Pacific railroads laid railroad tracks across the United States, one from the east and one from the west, heading toward a place in Utah where the two would meet. At this spot, Promontory Summit, north of the Great Salt Lake, on May 10, 1869, locomotives from each of the rail companies met at the completion of the transcontinental railroad. During the official Golden Spike Ceremony held that day, four final spikes were driven into the last railroad tie: the Golden Spike, courtesy of a friend of the Central Pacific’s president; a silver spike from Nevada; a gold and silver spike from Arizona; and a second golden spike from the proprietor of a San Francisco newspaper company.

Arriving from the east via the Union Pacific line was locomotive No. 119. The original locomotive was scrapped after the turn of the century, but a California company, O’Connor Engineering Laboratories, undertook a four year venture to re-create No. 119 in time for the 110th anniversary of the Golden Spike Ceremony. The locomotive is massive and so impressive to see in person. No. 119 is a steam engine, burning coal to generate the heat for the steam. It’s an amazing piece of engineering, especially given that there were no blueprints to work with. The engineers worked from an 1870 designer’s handbook and scalings from enlarged photographs of the original locomotive.

The same company also built the replica of Jupiter, the locomotive that came from the west via the Central Pacific line. The original had also met its end in the early 1900s. This equally impressive machine burns wood rather than coal to build the engine’s steam. The engineers running these locomotives wear period clothing, complete with the smudges one would expect from working with coal and wood fires and parts that need to be oiled and greased regularly.

Another ten or so miles from the Golden Spike site, we found the northern beaches of the Great Salt Lake, and an artwork called the Spiral Jetty. An American sculptor named Robert Smithson created the Jetty in 1970, when drought had dropped the lake to extremely low levels. The Jetty is 1500 feet long and 15 feet wide. Most of the time it is underwater, but this year the lake has dropped enough to let the basalt outline of the Jetty surface. And how’s this for cool…did you notice the lake is pink? That’s not a trick of the camera, it really is pink! Algae and bacteria that don’t mind the massive salt content at the north end of the lake are responsible for the color.

This rock, sitting at the edge of the lake near the base of the Spiral Jetty, is supposed to be black. The white you see is actually a crust of salt, left behind when the lake water splashes over the rock and then evaporates. Several salt companies operate around the lake. Your favorite table or sea salt may very well come out of the Great Salt Lake.

The pinkish haze in the sky in this photo is a result of smoke from all the western fires burning right now. While the haze makes for gorgeous sunsets, the omnipresent smoke is wreaking havoc on folks with allergies, asthma, and sensitive eyes. But that’s not the point of this picture. This photo gives you a general idea of what most of Utah’s north and west deserts look like. Also, it’s very easy in this state to find yourself in a place where you are completely alone, the only human for miles and miles. There’s still a great deal of the wild, untouched west in this state. That’s a big part of what I love about living here.

Thanks for joining me for my roadie slideshow! By the way, since these are my photos, if you want to use them somewhere, please give me credit. A link back would be lovely.

A Goodbye and a Roadie

14 Aug

Our time with our Japanese exchange student has come to an end. We’re leaving in about an hour to take him to the airport. He became part of our family so fast! We will all miss him. I think he will miss our pets the most, especially the dogs. He spent a lot of time playing with them and enjoying their company.

After taking him to the airport, the Helvetican and I are taking advantage of his day off and taking off on a roadie. This time, we’re trying something new and venturing into the northern parts of the state that we haven’t seen. I’ll be back with photos!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Catching Up

25 Jul

Time for another catching up post. At some point soon, I hope to find my rhythm again and get back to posting three times a week, but I need things to return to school-year-normal. Summertime-normal is always a madhouse around here. For now, here are a few random thoughts to bring me current…

The Helvetican and I went to see Dark Knight Rises last night. He picked it apart afterward, as is his nature. No, it wasn’t a perfect film, but I’m much more willing to suspend disbelief and just go with the world the moviemakers have constructed, overlooking bits of unreality in order to enjoy the created world as a whole. And it worked for me. I enjoyed the little twists, the touches like Scarecrow having an appearance, the overall darkness of everything falling apart with redemption well earned. Seeing what a toll being a superhero takes on a person was brilliant, and Christian Bale played it so well. Loved Bane (OMG, Tom Hardy put on some serious muscle for that!). Loooooved this take on Catwoman, now one of my favorite antiheroes EVER. Anne Hathaway was purrrrfect. (I know, lame, couldn’t resist.) And Blake, what a strong character. Great development through the film and a nice setup for him. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has grown into such a fine actor. I really enjoy watching his work.

Ok, enough of the fangirl moment.

The car is still in the shop, one week after it decided to die. Why? Because the darn thing won’t replicate the problem for diagnosis. It started up fine for the mechanic all through the next day until the final time he tried, then it failed to start. That was Friday. First thing Monday, he had the car on the equipment, ready to find out what the problem was…and spent all day Monday without being able to make it fail. Started perfectly every time. The check engine light had cleared itself and no code was in the memory, so we’ve got nothing to go on. Yesterday was a holiday here (Pioneer Day) so, naturally, the shop was closed. The plan today is to run the car hard, on the platform where they can simulate driving without going on the road, with lots of turning off and back on again. If it performs all day properly, we’ll all chalk it up to some weird thing that cleared itself out. I mean, what else can you do? If the car says it is fine, and it behaves fine, it must be fine, right? If there truly is a problem, I can only pray that it shows itself while hooked up to the equipment that will tell us what the problem really is. Cross your fingers for me, okay? Being down to one car is not fun, but I’d hate to get the other car back, only to have it strand us somewhere again.

The Trio, enjoying their new room.

Finally, I don’t think I ever mentioned the latest happenings with the bunnies. Our grand old lady, Brownie, passed away a while back. She was nine and amazed us all every day that she kept going. The Princess, the Helvetican, and I were all there with her at the last, so she was loved up to the end. She was buried between the two mates she had outlived. Her current mate, Smokey, moped around and grew very cranky. We knew he was a lonely bunny, but combining him with the remaining bonded couple didn’t seem like a good option. After all, the boys had their share of fights in the common bunny yard. We ditched both of the bunny condo cages, and gated off an otherwise useless alcove downstairs by the heater/water heater closet. I haven’t measured, but it’s a good 50 square feet or so. Plenty of room for three bunnies. It was a neutral space for all of them, no one had previous claim to it. They tussled a bit, establishing warren ranks, but only the first day. The three have lived in harmony ever since, and the two boys are best friends, while Miss Chelsea is the queen of all she surveys. So, no more lonely bunnies! It was a bit of a change for the Princess, though. It’s the first time in nine years that she didn’t have a bunny living in her bedroom. She had a hard time sleeping for a while because of the quiet.

Writing-wise, I’m working toward a magazine deadline this week, and doing programs for a local theater company production. I’m trying to scribble some fiction here and there where I can, but this may be a lost week. I should add some counters so you can see where I’m at on the books in progress. I’m also trying to clear out some nagging items-that-need-doing around the house before August 1. I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo in August, trying to put out at least 50k words. That should be fun, working around our temporary exchange student who will be here for ten days next month. More on that later.

Have a great Wednesday! Be sure to pop in Friday when the Hero Hop starts!

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