Monday, November 29, 2010

Salt Lake City Thanksgiving Trip: Drive Up and Thanksgiving Day

Bobby and I drove to Salt Lake City on Wednesday morning to spend Thanksgiving vacation at my cousin Jen's house, where she lives with her boyfriend Damon. It was a pretty good family affair, because her sister Mel flew in from Texas with her husband, Josh, and their children Jacob and Tyler. Plus my brother flew in from Montana, and my Uncle Daniel (Mel and Jen's father) flew in from Phoenix. It was nice to get together and have a holiday at Jen's- she's lived in SLC for about 7 years now and we always make her come to us. It was time to come to her!

We left Colorado at 8 a.m., amidst dire weather warnings using terms like "Snowmageddon" and "blizzard". I was worried because there was a chance we'd have to turn around if things got too rough.

The roads were pretty clear all the way up to Denver and a little beyond, but as we continued to gain altitude things got a bit more intense. Here, we're at around 8,000 feet and this trucker is pulled over, putting on chains, to get through this...

Yes. Underneath that snow, there is, in fact a road. We got up to about 11,000 feet, our highest point of the trip, and for about 3 hours we drove on this going no faster than 35 miles per hour. The good thing is, this is as bad as it got, and it wasn't icy, just snowy. The bad thing was, it added about 3 extra hours onto our trip. Which was already 9 hours long to begin with.

As soon as we descended to around 4,000 feet, out of nowhere, we saw blue sky for the first time all day. And the sun came out. And the roads began to clear. It was crazy how much of a difference it was.

The last portion of the drive through Colorado was absolutely gorgeous. We went through three or four tunnels through the mountains, and we followed this river for a good 3 hours. After the stress of slogging through the mountains in ski country it was nice to be whizzing along on dry roads looking up at them, and enjoying the snow from very far below.

Finally hit the state line, in daylight no less! A rock and the timer on my camera contributed to this portrait- oh, and shout out to the patch of dry grass photo bombing on the left. We didn't die on the piece of crap highway that is Highway 6, and we walked into Jen's house at 8:30 p.m. We caught up a bit, but mostly we blew up the air mattress and passed out. We were so glad to be there!

The next morning was Thanksgiving, and Jen was in the kitchen bright and early. She's in culinary school, and her kitchen is her little sanctuary. She usually has it all to herself, but she was sharing it with Mel and Uncle Dan that day.

They assured me that Bobby and I didn't need to cook anything, so instead I played photographer- someone has to document family moments like this, right?

Mel, demonstrating the proper tools for deviling eggs.

Hmm, I wonder where she gets it from?

The kids and the boys were wrapped up in the football game while the cooking was going on.

And baby Tyler just hung out on his blanket, being cute. And yes, that is a temporary pirate tattoo. Awesome.

Once the cooking was done and the kids were ready to go, we loaded up the cars and headed over to Damon's step-mother's house for Thanksgiving dinner. We got to look at this the whole way over. I forgot my camera in the car, but honestly I was so exhausted from the day before and the early morning after that I was pretty much a zombie. I ate a lot of delicious food and had a great time, but I was super grateful to come home to that air mattress on Jen's floor later that night. I was also super grateful that we braved the weather and made the trip up to spend Thanksgiving with family. It was worth all 12 hours of driving to be with them.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just in Time

I finished the very last of my scanning project late on Sunday night! Close to 2,000 photos, covering more than 100 years and 7 generations, are all backed up on my computer, and then backed up again on my external hard drive. I wanted to get this project done before we left for Salt Lake City for Thanksgiving, and I'm so glad I did. I really can't believe that those two boxes I've been dragging around for a decade now are really all scanned in, organized, and sorted. As I was scanning I culled out doubles to give away, and the copies I'm keeping went into photo boxes. If Bobby and I were going to be settled, I would have put them back into their photo albums, but as it is now we are planning to be gypsies come May, and will be leaving the country, so it made much more sense to condense them down into storage. Plus, I *really* love the photo boxes I have, they are so tidy and compact.

Here is box number one, with 12 snap top containers that come out individually to hold pictures.

And here is box number two, same design with 12 individual containers. I labeled the containers with masking tape, so if the contents change it would be easy to re-label.

To give you an idea of the sheer number of pictures I have been working through- each small container has about this many pictures in it. And again, there are 24 of the small containers. That is a lot of damn pictures.

I filled up the two boxes fairly quickly, so there are still tons of pictures that need to be filed away- this is only about 1/5 of the pictures that are in (organized) piles on my study floor waiting for their own plastic box home.

I also have tens of other organized piles of pictures that are the doubles I need to organize, put in albums, and give away. Bobby had the great idea of copying all the digital files onto a flash drive to give to people, so I'll be giving away physical albums in conjunction with a flash drive of the digital files.

I know these update posts must be super boring, but really I cannot even express how much of a load has been lifted off of me now that this is done. I was the unofficial "picture keeper" of my family, and somehow I ended up with all of my baby pictures, plus my sister's, brother's, mom's, uncles', Granny's, and Great Granny's pictures. I mean, I had original copies of my Great Granny's wedding picture. I'm not a materialistic person, and I'm not overly sentimental when it comes to things like so and so's chair or china set, but it would have been devastating if something had happened to all of these pictures. But now it's done, and I don't have to worry about protecting every photographic memory my family ever made :)

For now I'm off to read for class and pack for our trip. My cousin Jen and her boyfriend are hosting Thanksgiving, and her sister Mel is flying in with her husband and two sons. Their father- my uncle on my Dad's side- is coming in too, and so is my brother. It will be a nice big group of family and Jen has already promised hot blueberry pie, brownies, and coffee with pumpkin spice creamer will be waiting at the end of our drive. As long as the weather cooperates, all should be well.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Phase II Begins...

When I started this picture project, I basically divided it into two parts in my mind. Phase I consisted of pictures from college all the way back to my mother's childhood. Phase II consisted of very old black and white portraits and snapshots of my Great Granny's family- from her own Great Grandmother, up through her birth, childhood, and the early years of her marriage. Yesterday I finished scanning 100+ pictures of my mother and older brother's very early years,and I was finally ready to tackle the really old pictures. For whatever reason, in my mind I had been picturing Phase II as a short, quick endeavor. The cardboard box holding all the pictures was small-ish, certainly smaller than the two huge boxes I started with for the other pictures. Last night I got it all out to sort and organize for this morning, and I soon realized that I had HUNDREDS of snapshots and formal portraits. Probably close to 350. In addition, I wanted to do this project right, so I'm not just saving the files as "Great Granny and Granny". No, it's "Marguerite Pankratz with firstborn child Benita Pankratz".

So, right now, this is my homestretch...

this entire pile, plus all the pictures stuffed in those two smaller, closed boxes...

seen here.

The best thing about Phase II though, has to be getting to re-discover pictures I remember my Great Granny displaying in beautiful gold frames in her big brick house on Main Street. Pictures like these from her wedding day.

I'm so glad that I took the time to do this (tedious/boring/backcrunching) project. It will all be worth it to have everything preserved digitally.

I'm almost there!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Toy Story

Bobby and I went to a popular local toy store when his friends were in town, and we played like kids. It's one of those old fashioned down town toy stores that has wooden toys, hand sewn dollies and stuffed animals, a huge picture book section, whimsical, weird kids' accessories, and a second floor loft consisting of an art area and a play area. We weren't the only adults there who were overly excited about how rad it all was. We probably were the only people taking stupid pictures though...

Soo.... this was the creepy window display. A headless girl mannequin pushing a cart in front of a wall of real toast. Not sure if that would be *my* first choice to really draw in the kiddies, but hey, I guess they were really pushing that whole "whimsical" thing.

The view of the main walkway of the store from the loft. Wonderland.

Bobby joined me in the loft, and we found this sweet astronaut helmet.

I was method acting here, imagining what I'd look like if I was seeing the earth as a shiny blue marble from space. Blank faced shock people.

We're vegetarians, so we're not quite sure how the whole hunting thing works. We did our best with what we had to work with.

Dr. Bobby

My irrational fears of being attacked by bears are justified!

And then alligators!

I wish it was this happy in real life.

This sow had magnetic teats, and the piglets had magnetic mouths.

Pig love continues. Doesn't Leviticus have something to say about all of this?!

I remember these license plates being popular when I was a little kid. I laugh out loud every single time I see this.

Shout out to my good friend Abraham, who's currently living in Dubai. Miss you! I apologize in advance if the next picture offends anyone...

Spell it right! Just as I remember these being around since childhood, I also remember never being able to find Courtney without a "U". Some things never change :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hipster Convention

Last weekend Bobby and I went to a Cupcake Cookoff. It was donation based and held in my favorite bookstore downtown- it's all volunteer run, sells second hand books, and has a coffee shop. It has an eco-focus, and promotes biking, sustainable living, local news/politics, and local artists/authors. Plus, all the entrants in the cookoff were local non-profits, so the donations went right back into our local community. It was probably the highest scoring entertainment event one could attend based on every single local advocate/green consumer/conscious citizen parameter. We were also sure that any space with that many cupcakes per square inch was also most assuredly bound to have a very concentrated percentage of hipsters. So, we started referring to it, jokingly, as the "Hipster Convention". When we showed up, we both just started laughing and shaking our heads. It was literally as though it was a costume party, and the theme was "dress like an uber hipster- no, really, like, totally over the top". The place was packed, and we were probably two out of five people not wearing vintage from head to toe, sporting super skinny jeans, feathers, clove cigarettes tucked behind our ears, horrendous dresses piled in layers over loud tights, ironic mullets, and epic handlebar mustaches, wax gleaming slickly in the light. Oh, and I can't forget- lots and lots of no-medical-necessity glasses- "nerd glasses". Kittens, I want to assure you all right here and now that we weren't making fun of these people, we were just making fun of how absurd it all was. I mean, we're in a local, independent, volunteer run bookstore/coffee shop, at a Cupcake Cookoff, and virtually every. single. person. was sporting the most stereotypical examples of the ironic/self conscious/over the top hipster was like a stereotype inside a stereotype sold at Anthropologie wrapped in thrift store gift paper. I dunno, maybe it was just funny to us because it almost felt as though the universe had heard our references to a Hipster Convention, and then triple upped us when it came to the reality of it all. And don't get me wrong, I have my share of thrift store dresses and ugly tights...but I digress. Now that I've set the scene via words, here are some pictures- washed out, flash using pictures, I will warn you, because unfortunately it was quite dim in that small, packed space.

Downtown was all Christmas'd out with twinkle lights in the branches and wrapped around the trees.

Bulletin board in the bookstore when you first enter- I love the way they spell out community.

After we paid our donation we were given hand stamps of tools- the event was put on by a group called "Hammer-Time Co-op" so it was only fitting.

They gave us tickets to write our votes on, and detailed, colorfully written instructions on how to vote. This was when we were scoping out the place and just laughing at how absurd life can be sometimes.

And then we were off! This was the first cupcake of the night. At this point, we had not idea that there were TWENTY PLUS booths awaiting us. We each had 1/4 of this one, and it was delicious.

Truth be told, this was one awesome as well. In fact, I didn't have one bad cupcake that night. This one was one of my favorites.

This nice young gentleman- and I have to say, everyone was *so nice*- was with a group that gives books to prisoners. Here he is modeling his wares- vegan chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache.

This was my favorite booth. It's from the local sewing shop "Mama Said Sew". Awww, cute, right?

These were from another local coffee shop- please note requisite hipster vintage hootie owl. At this point, we were sampling our 5th cupcake. Most had been broken into halves and fourths, but even so we had both eaten a little over two complete cupcakes all told. We then looked to our left and saw that he line continued all the way to the stairs. There was also a bottleneck forming, so there was no more picture taking at booths. We tried to be more judicious in our sampling, but we still ended up with at least 4 quarter sized pieces of cupcakes each. We decided to head up to the loft area to take tiny bites of each piece so we didn't get sick.

Bike love continues in the decor flanking the staircase.

I love how they use Scrabble pieces to denote the different sections (and ouch, that garish flash is taunting me).

Here's the view from the top, which gives you a good idea of the crowd and the line of cupcakes we went through.

I was only able to taste two more tiny, tiny pieces before I folded. My sugar limit had been reached, exceeded, and then left behind many bites before. We both decided to vote and head out for dinner.

We headed to our favorite sushi place. They make the most amazingly complex vegetable rolls. So many places wrap rice around a piece of cucumber and expect vegetarians to grovel in gratitude. This place has about 10 different veggie rolls, and they're all great (and cheap!)

Here's my favorite- Buddha's feast. On the inside you have cucumber, avocado, tempura sweet potato, and carrot. It's all wrapped in a thin slice of lightly fried tofu, then topped with lemony guacamole and black sesame seeds. A perfect balance to cut through all the sugar we had.

This is me, as I was saying "I feel insane from all this sugar. I have a sugar coma. I think it's serious".