Saturday, December 31, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Outward Appearances

"But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

Years ago when I was the coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at BYU. A prominent Palestinian Arab Anglican priest (Naim Ateek) from Jerusalem came to visit Utah. I had meet him before and read his book "Justice and only Justice". He was and is a long time supporter of a fair and just two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I thought it would be a great idea to have the BYU community learn from a moderate, reasonable Palestinian Christian. In particular I thought that all of the BYU Jerusalem Center alumni would enjoy hearing him. When I sought approval (as is required at BYU) to have him come and speak I was told by the International Vice President that he could come if we only advertised his lecture to the Middle East Studies majors and to my Middle East geography students. When I questioned why we had to limit our publicity, I was told that that if it was publicized as a BYU event, and not just a major specific event, then "some member [of the Church] in Hurricane, Utah" might think that BYU and by extension the LDS Church was somehow validating and supporting what Ateek might say. There was a real concern that outwardly BYU and its guests must look the part, even if that meant severely restricting open dialogue which is so much a part of university learning.

This fear of what outsiders might see, hear and think also influences who is and is not invited to speak at BYU lectures and forums. There is a very intense vetting process to make sure that all university wide speakers outwardly exemplify what BYU and the LDS Church stands for. Sometimes those who are accepted (VP Dick Cheney) and those who are turned down (LDS author Laurel Thatcher Ulrich) are seemingly done with no rhyme or reason, but there is always a reason.  

When the Mormon Tabernacle Choir accepted president-elect Trump's invitation to sing at his inauguration, Mormons reacted in two very divergent ways which highlight two different views on how the Mormon Church should and will be viewed during this tumultuous time. 

Many see the Choir's singing as a fitting continuation of singing at inaugurations for any president, Republican or Democrat, who issues an invitation. They see it as a great opportunity for Mormon missionary work and a way to "let our light shine." And they see it as a patriotic act to honor the office of President and to celebrate the United State's peaceful democratic process. It shows that Mormons are loyal, patriotic Americans. All good reasons.

Other Mormon's see it as having a much more troubling meaning. They feel that the Choir's singing at the inauguration could be construed (by Muslims, Mexicans, women and even residents of Hurricane) as symbolically validating a man whose words and actions are very much at odds with Mormon ideals. This is not about outward policies (if he and his supporters want to build a wall then so be it, he was fairly elected on that platform) it is about inner character (bragging about his predator advances on women, his degrading comments about Mexicans, his discrediting of a US judge of Mexican ancestry, his vilification of all Muslims, his lack of business ethics (profit is all that matters), his disrespectful name calling (lyin' Ted, crooked Hillary) and on and on). 

If BYU is so vigilant in vetting its lecturers for fear of what message it may be giving, it seems only fair to hope that similar concerns be given by the LDS Church to what message an inaugural performance might give. Apparently the outward appearance of patriotism was viewed as more important than the outward appearance of standing up for what is right.   

 Martin Luther King Memorial, Washington DC.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Walnuts: Candied and for the Birds

Eighteen years ago I planted a walnut tree in our back yard.

This year it gave us its most bountiful crop, even with the loss of one of its main branches to a wind storm this past summer. The remaining branches were so heavily laden with big walnuts that they drooped down into our soccer playing pitch thus necessitating the occasional pruning of downward intruding branches.

Throughout the fall as walnuts dropped and then finally the leaves, the branches bounced back upwards.

The bird watching view from our family room window.

Fall and early winter mornings find a fun variety of birds enjoying the fruits of our back yard. First to go are the chokecherries in mid summer, then eventually it is the sun flowers seeds, plums, grapes, yew berries, tiny flowering pears, mountain ash berries and walnuts.

Fat Robin in the flowering pear.

Three robins in the mountain ash.

A few quail who ventured away from their dropped and decaying plum-feasting covey.

Startled starlings

Northern flicker (woodpecker) cracking open a walnut.

Top of the pecking order magpie. They love the walnuts and are their primary eaters. I apply the law of gleaners to my harvesting of walnuts. If I can't get the tough, hardened, blackened shell off I leave them in a pile under the walnut tree for birds to glean during the winter.

Magpie hard at work.

Post meal outer and inner shells.

A rare guest in our back yard a few weeks ago was this female sharp-shinned hawk (which looks a lot like a cooper's hawk). It is feasting on a bird.

 Squirrels also like our walnuts. The deer that frequent our backyard do not.

As the walnuts started to fall from October through November we would gather them up and then with a screw driver and gloves (the blackened outer shells really stain) I would peal off the soft green or hardening black outer shell. I then left them to dry on our front porch.

Shelling was done while watching the news (I'm weary of news about Trump), Christmas concerts or The Flash with Will. The stainless steel tub produced over 10 pounds of walnuts.

Quite a savings given the current price of a pound of walnuts.

For delicious candied walnuts, boil one cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of orange juice for two minutes, add a quarter teaspoon of orange extract, stir in four cups of walnuts and then spread to cool.  Easy.

Ready to go for an Emmett family party tomorrow and for neighborhood gifts. Tasty.

Still more to shell and enjoy throughout the year. I've decided to do more baking since I am the one who most enjoys walnuts in cookies, cakes and other desserts (banana splits!).

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Over the Rivers...

For Thanksgiving this year we decided to go over the rivers and through the woods to visit Marie's sister Jeanne and her family in Redmond Washington. To do so I finally gave in and decided not to hold classes on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Years ago BYU decided to cancel Wednesday classes before Thanksgiving so students would have a day to travel home instead of dangerously driving through the night to get home in time for Thanksgiving dinner. That change then ushered in a new schedule where Friday classes would be taught on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. For many years I dutifully taught my Friday classes on that Tuesday even though many students felt (and lobbied me) that taking off on Tuesday or for the whole week was a good idea. In particular, the Friday-on -Tuesday classes normally would only have about 1/3rd of the students attend. This year I gave up the Tuesday class fight for my own selfish reasons--a much needed road trip.

The easiest and fasted route to the Seattle suburb of Redmond is I-84 through Idaho and Oregon. It can be done in 12 hours. But, we've driven that route several times already so, why not go the scenic, with-portions-never-driven route, via Montana? And why not do it in two days so we can make stops along the way?

Tuesday morning we headed north along I-15. The first major river we crossed was the Bear River as it approached its entry into the Great Salt Lake. Next was the Snake River long before it joins the Columbia River. We crossed the Continental Divide at the cleverly named Morida Pass on the Montana-Idaho border. The boys liked the idea of peeing on the divide so they could contribute H2O to both oceans, but there was no place to pull over and pee on the interstate.

From there to Butte as we crossed the Red Rock, Blacktail and Big Hole rivers, we passed many a grazing Angus cattle. (Thanks for driving Sarah so I could take this photo out the window).

For years I have wanted to visit Butte. I had read of the toxic lake that had formed in the Berkeley open-pit mine and wanted to see it for real. Butte is the quintessential old west mining town. It is surrounded by abandoned mines and scarred waste lands contaminated by tailing that are marked by mine towers and memorials.

 Half of the countries where the lost miners came from.

 Berkeley Pit lies to the north of the old mining town (bottom center).

  The view towards the pit from the north west. The mountain crest is the continental divide.

The pit and lake from the south. When opened, visitors can walk through a tunnel for a closer view.

We kept trying to get a close up view of the pit, but it is fenced off and only visible with a guided tour (during the tourist season). Thanks for the great photo Joel.

Copper King mansion.

We loved all of the many old churches in town--at least 55.

On the corner of Montana and Silver streets.

From Butte to our night's stay in Missoula (where we happily accepted at the Holiday Inn Express an upgrade to a three bed suite due to low occupancy) to our rain-turned-to-snow morning drive up and over the summit into Idaho we followed (via I-90) and often crossed the Clark Fork River.

Lots of woods in western Montana and Northern Idaho.

In Spokane we drove through the downtown, where we crossed the Spokane River twice so I could show the kids where my family once vacation at the riverfront Spokane World's Fair (1974).

Unique to that Fair was a Golden Plates shaped LDS exhibit (center of photo) that was built out over the river. 

Tom, Chad, Jake (l to r) at the Spokane World's Fair

I don't remember a whole lot about the fair, but I do remember visiting the Golden Plates, sleeping in our motor home in a campground on the outskirts of town and rafting down some rapids of the Spokane River.

We headed west from Spokane along US highway 2. Lots of rolling hills of wheat stubble.

Next stop was the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River. Of all the dams in the US, this mile wide behemoth produces the most hydroelectric power. The big, long reservoir, which reaches northward into Canada, is called Lake Roosevelt after FDR who included this dam in his New Deal public work projects.

In 1962, when I was 5 1/2 years old, we took a family vacation (mom and dad and the four oldest boys--10, 7, 5 and 3) to the Seattle World's Fair. Grandma and Grandpa Fife along with Grandma Emmett caravaned along with us. At one point along the way we stopped for a picnic lunch where Grandpa introduced us kids to the joys of Dr. Pepper.

 Chad, Bob, Bill (l to r)

 At Grand Coulee Dam before the hat was blown away.

I don't know why my parents included the out of the way (less so then in pre I-90 days) Grand Coulee dam on the itinerary, but they did. We all walked out on the dam for a view. Mom was a nervous wreck (as usual). She was afraid one of us four boys would fall over the dam. Dad was wearing one of his wide brimmed straw hats. He went to lift up Jake (I think) to look down over the railing. As he did a gust of wind blew his hat over the dam--which mom saw out of the corner of her eye. She screamed thinking one of her boys was falling to his death!

Tourists are no longer allowed out on the dam (so Marie did not need to worry). Within a day of September 11th open public access to the dam was prohibited.

Next stop was the Krumperman home where we joined in their Thanksgiving traditions:
8:00 AM Turkey Bowl (in the rain). Uncle Paul hands off to nephew Will.

Completed pass and in for a touchdown.

10:00 Pie Breakfast. Several families all bring pies to share. The tradition started in Ann Arbor years ago and is slowly diffusing across the land. A great idea. Pie is all the more enjoyable to eat when ones stomach is not already over flowing.

5:00 Traditional turkey dinner. Delicious.

Next day was spectacularly sunny. We visited Lake Union and the gas works.

For more of a previous Emmett Trip to Seattle visit this blog post:

Views of post election America from one of the liberal coasts.

A bumper sticker I can support.

Next stop the Ballard Locks. Linking the safe harbor of Lake Union with the Puget Sound.

The gum wall at Pikes Place Market--where we didn't eat gum but we did enjoy doughnuts and introducing the Krumperman kids to sushi.

Saturday got off to a rainy start so while Sarah did some homework and the boys watched football, I went on a delightful five mile loop walk in the rain through the Redmond Watershed Preserve. This forest preserve in the middle of town is a wonderful oasis of woods.

Later that day we all visited Snoqualmie Falls on the Snoqualmie River.

 Clouds enveloped the falls from the upper view.

 Loved the deep olive greens of the river.

Sunday we headed out at 6:00 am for our 12 1/2 hour drive home via I-90, I-82, I-84--which parallels the Snake River across Idaho, and then familiar I-15. We had snow squalls atop Snoqualmie Pass, sunshine through the fruited Yakima valley, flurries over the Blue Mountains of NE Oregon and then partly sunny skies until we reached the Utah-Idaho border. We were already for a forecasted snow storm, but luckily we beat it to town.

Over the Columbia River from Washington into Oregon.

 We crossed over the Snake River when we crossed from Oregon into Idaho and then again when I-84 turned southward towards Utah. In-between Joel took a turn driving across part of the flat, straight, 80-mph mid section of Idaho.

Almost to Utah. The storm clouds start to appear.

Now back to work and school.