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Puppies Playing in the First Major Snowfall of the Year

Despite being rather hairless, our older dog Midna loves the snow. We adopted Atrus this spring, so we really had no idea what he thought of snow. Turns out they both love playing in it, although with his fluffy coat, Atrus is much happier laying down (and occasionally rolling) in the snow.  It’s a little tricky trying to capture them running circles around the yard at top speed, but I do have video of the puppies playing together.

I have them playing together Friday when the storm first started.  She’s wearing her raincoat (over her knit sweater), but I found that Atrus bites her a bit too hard and it comes off and gets in the way.

Thrack took some video of the puppies Sunday after we bought Midna a giant puffy new coat.  At first, she didn’t like that the snow was deeper, but she eventually got more excited about playing in it.

Photographic Vignettes # 26

Last week I was talking to a friend and realized I had never put up a post showing photographs of Arches National Park.  I am ashamed and have decided to rectify the problem.

Utah's iconic Delicate Arch

Stone arches are certainly not unique to Utah or the Intermountain West, but what makes Arches National Park so noteworthy is the concentration of arches.  The park has over 2,000 individual arches interspersed with other fantastically weathered formations.

Sheer Walls of Park Avenue

A quick note about arches versus bridges.  Both of them are open spans created by erosion, but arches are created by intermittent water and a natural bridge is formed by continuous water flow like a river or stream.  Below is a natural bridge for comparison (specifically Sipapu at Natural Bridges National Monument).

Sipapu Bridge at Natural Bridges National Monument

The arches at Arches, are all actually of a newer stone layer than the bridge above.  They’re from the layers called Entrada and Navajo sandstone and date to the Jurassic Period (Natural Bridges shown is from the Permian).  And much of the exposed sandstone in Arches shows desert varnish, a mixture of elemental, clay and organic material that makes the normally red stone look deep brown.

Three Penguins

North and South Windows behind Petrified Dunes

Parade of Elephants

Cove Arch

Below Cove Arch

Fiery Furnace

Landscape Arch

View North through Park Avenue

Balanced Rock

Skyline Arch

Three Gossips

Camera Shy

I have this delightful and frustrating little nanday conure named Beaky.  He snuggles and plays and makes me smile.  But he won’t, absolutely won’t, play when I’m trying to film him.  It’s a shame because he’s very funny.  Here are some of our failed attempts to get him to show how rambunctious and fun he can be.

Here is how it looks when he stops playing with toys in his cage as soon as you start filming.

And this is a sequence of short videos I tried to capture of him on one of the play gyms we constructed for the main bathroom.  He’s a jerk.  He’s also beautiful.  You can at least watch him climb around and see his eyes pinpoint in his pouch.

Our Mountains

Early European explorers, passers-through and pioneers had no great love for the young & tall mountains in the West. Mountains, sandstone canyons and mesas were barriers and impediments through unfamiliar landscape. A hard and sometimes cruel land that looked grey and barren to their eyes. The names they gave on maps reflect this, bearing innumerable hellish descriptors or names like “starvation.”

Little Cottonwood Canyon Wall from the Road

Mountains in their old homelands carried strange stories or were home to vengeful gods and spirits. Even some of those who recognized the great beauty of these vistas emphasized their danger and separation from people.

Rushing water up Little Cottonwood Canyon

For us, our mountains are incredibly important. My great aunt once told us that the end of a flight home when the well-known peaks came into view, it felt like being wrapped up in a warm blanket. These mountains are home itself in a very powerful way.

Lower flow in record heat of 2012 summer

And it isn’t that they’re loved because the ranges are beautiful and majestic. It’s not their draw for skiing tourism or an easy connection to nature & recreation. It’s not because it makes navigation easier because you never lose your sense of direction. All this is true, but there is a more powerful force at work.

What it's really all about: WATER

Without these mountains, we could not live. This place would be more open space, sparsely populated by unfortunate tribes confined to too little land on reservations while the rest would most likely be more land on which the military drops weapons. Our Western sagebrush ocean has always been seen as useless but for its financial utility by the federal government that owns the majority of our state.

Thistles: pokey and pretty

It is our mountains that let people thrive in this wild and arid place; we rely on mountains for water. Every drop of rain and (especially) flake of snow that falls in our mountains near reservoirs becomes part of the next year’s water supply. Because we need them, mountains become precious not just for beauty and wilderness. They mean home.

Giant Fallen Granite Boulder & Trees

Family outings and picnics up the many canyons are a childhood staple.  When I’m tired or stressed, a short trip up the canyons provides incredible refreshment and joy.  The landscape with rushing water and the reminder of life with greenery and the animal sounds all around me are euphoric and transcendental.

 Brave Midna @ Little Cottonwood Canyon  Brave Midna at Little Cottonwood Canyon 2
 Brave Midna at Little Cottonwood Canyon 3  Brave Midna at Little Cottonwood Canyon 4
Brave Midna at Little Cottonwood Canyon 5 Brave Midna at Little Cottonwood Canyon 6

The dogs seem to have a good time too.  Although I think in the future, I’ll avoid trying to shoot video while tethered to exploring, happy canines.

Dogs at the stream edge

Downstream view

Atrus finds this rock fascinating

More Canyon Walls

Water flowing through Little Cottonwood Canyon

Midna also finds the rock fascinating, but from underneath

The other bank

Branches washed down during spring

Photographic Vignettes # 25

I guess this isn’t so much photographic as videographic.  Anyway, here is what part of our Saturday afternoon with our pets looked like.  We snuggled all our beasties on the bed.  The dogs played and Beaky was mostly just happy to be close, held and snuggled.

The dogs like biting me.  And you can tell by their growling, they’re terribly fearsome.

And they like biting each other’s faces while kicking us.

Beaky just likes us. Also, he doesn’t seem to understand about cameras and filming. Don’t approach and climb on the person trying to shoot, silly bird.  Toward the end, I get him to bob up and down, one of the first playful things he ever did with us.  He looks so boring and unplayful here, but I promise, when I’m not trying to film him, he is clownish and adorable.

All that playing makes Atrus sleepy.

Happy Eyes Closed Atrus

And just look at that tongue!

Beaky never seems to be happy unless he’s on top of one of us.

Beaky on Thrack, plus Thrack's hair

And like all parrots, he does this thing where he stops and stares at his feet in fascination.

Look at the feet, look at the feet, look at the feet

Blue Hair! And Purple!

A friend at my former employer was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year; I decided that since there was nothing I could do, I was going to donate my hair one it was long enough.

This much hair is bullshit

I hated it. My hair was way too damned long, longer than it had been in over a decade.

Last picture with long hair

At last, it's going!

I couldn’t wait until it was long enough to donate. Locks of Love asks for a minimum of ten inches, but thankfully Pantene Beautiful Lengths only asks for a minimum of eight inches. By the time I got laid off, I had nine inches to give. It felt amazing just getting the weight off my head. I felt like I could breathe and looked like myself again.

I'm me again!

Donated in Honor of Jan Ferguson, one of the most determined women I've ever known.

I decided to mark the gesture by doing something big and dramatic. I was unemployed and what the hell – I was going to dye my hair blue.


My mom agreed to help me do a fancy gradient effect from a lighter teal blue to a deep blue. I was exited and a bit nervous when I saw how intense the blue of the first coat looked on my head. And then when the dye finished, it came out much greener than either of us expected.

Wet dye

First Color Result

My mom “painted” on the deep blue, having fun with creative application. Then she made us both cocktails as we relaxed in the backyard.

"I'm painting!" she says.

Mom in the garden

Mmm, drinking

The result was really fun and dramatic. It was shocking but I liked it. It wasn’t so much that it was blue, but that it was dark. I’ve always been blond, so it’s still messing with my brain a bit.

First view of blue hair

Me and Mom

Me and Bonnie

I also bought nail polish to match my hair.

Shower Together polish

Unfortunately, the blue just didn’t want to stay. I touched it with the deep blue again, and it looked great at first. But it kept fading and didn’t take as well as I’d like. So after a couple weeks when my hair was looking a bit tired, I went purple.

Amazingly purple!

Hooray, purple!

It’s taken better than the blue and I like it.

Photographic Vignettes # 24

This weekend we went to my parents’ place for a summer BBQ.  My mom asked I put up a post about the cute critters, so enjoy.

First is the evidence of my newfound strategy of placating an anxious corgi mix with cabbage. Behold Atrus, official household Cabbagehead.

Atrus the Cabbagehead

I also have videos of the dogs playing the backyard.  Our dogs both have a very passive disposition, and so they have a tendency to let the older beagle win.  By the end of the day, they don’t even really try to take the ball away from Bonnie.

My parents recently clipped the wings of their pair of conures (one is a sun, the other a jenday) so it is safe to take them outside again with supervision.  Normally they’re pretty snugly, but they weren’t super interested in being held on Sunday.

They are terribly beautiful creatures (although I’m still partial to the colors of my bright green Beaky), and quite clownish.

Climbing Featherfaces

They also love certain kinds of meat.  (No idea what happened to this video; Thrack took this one and it is rotated sideways.)

Looking at how nicely my parents’ backyard has come together makes me wish we were further along fixing our yard up.  For example, we’ve had to kill off the grass in a large section of the yard because a previous owner buried impermeable plastic a few inches below the surface. We’re still digging it up.  The dogs don’t seem to mind, though.